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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackeral Beach
- June 2009 -
Notices for Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia
June 2009

Local Council Notices 

Pittwater Council are asking residents who are not connected to the main sewer system to be sewer-wise when it comes to checking what goes into their septic tanks or sewage systems.

Approximately 1200 households in Pittwater are unable to connect to Sydney Water’s sewage system.  These properties each have their own sewage management system that needs to be maintained regularly to minimize impacts to the environment.

Pittwater Council’s Principal Environmental Health Officer Robina Warburton said that by following some basic guidelines, residents with their own sewer systems could prevent problems occurring.

“Being familiar with the location and layout of your system, saving water where possible and not loading the system with oils and food waste can all help,” said Ms Warburton.

The Council is currently exhibiting its On-Site Sewage Management Strategy for public comment. The strategy can be viewed online at www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au or at customer service centres at Avalon and Mona Vale.

The strategy is aimed at better managing the likelihood of pollution from on-site sewage management systems. For enquiries about septic tanks and sewage treatment systems contact the Council’s environmental health unit on 9970 1141.

Ms Warburton said that properties currently using their own septic systems but located within 75 metres of a Sydney Water sewer connection point were required by law to connect to the sewer.  

“Residents can obtain a Service Location Print from a Sydney Water Quick Check agent to find out their nearest connection point.”  For a list of Sydney Water agents in the local area visit www.sydneywater.com.au 
Media contacts:  Robina Warburton  Ph: 9970 1141

West Pittwater Community Association’s response to the Council’s draft on the On-site Sewage Management Strategy

21 June 2009
Pittwater Council
PO Box 882
Mona Vale NSW  1660
Att:  Mark Ferguson
General Manager
cc  Mayor Cr David James
cc  Councillor Ian White
Dear Mark
Attached please find the West Pittwater Community Association’s response to the Council’s draft on the On-site Sewage Management Strategy.  Before specifically addressing our response to the draft document, we wished to convey our unease about the current situation.
As you are aware WPCA has a good track record of working with Council and with the wider community in a constructive and positive manner as evidenced by the $7,000 dollars raised for Pittwater High School solar panels, the fight to save Currawong, bush regeneration, our ongoing (but as yet to be productive) involvement with the Church Point Plan of Management etc. These efforts are volunteered even though the offshore Pittwater rate payers suffer from a lack of provision of basic services for which the rest of the community is not expected to pay and take for granted.  I would like to add that our rates have gone towards paying for much of this public infrastructure for which we receive no benefits only threats of invasive bureaucracy and additional charges.
We must firstly express that we take offence at the bullying and punitive tone that characterises the way the document is written.  This is an inconsistency in light of the open and future focused ethos that Council appears to be promoting through initiatives such as the Community Reference Groups.
It is also inconsistent with the professed goals of Pittwater 2020.

2.         STRATEGY AIMS
In broad terms the WPCA  supports the document as written for the above  items 1 - 3
The WPCA is concerned that this item is making assumptions and limiting options for the future best practice evolution of on-site sewage management in Pittwater.  In fact the stated aim of working in ‘partnership’ (4.2), is erroneous. A process purporting to this aim requires communication that enables the evolution of agreed strategies with the community.  There has been much concern by community members over the proposed ‘enforced from above’ approach. The WPCA offers to host a workshop to do just that…engage a working partnership.  The document states ‘adopting a partnership approach’ with no opportunity for development of this approach.  Saying the words is not walking the talk….and just dismisses the contribution the community could potentially make.
The database that council must already have from the previous inspection system, and how risk is to be assessed requires clarification. The educative aspect is supported, however the management system seems to be about outsourcing and database management… and this appears overly complex when seen in contrast to a single council employee/expert who handled the inspection and improvement process of what seemed like a direct and straightforward system.  The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, seems to have morphed into ‘if it ain’t broke… go break it, then fix it!’
6.1       Council
6.2       Landowners/Householders
      6.2.1 Submission of on-site sewage management inspection reports
      6.2.2 Registration for approval to operate an on-site sewage management system
6.3       Service Providers
 This item needs to be looked at with community input. The awarding of levels of risk seems to use Australian Height Datum in lieu of soil composition and suitability.
7.1       Local Government Act 1993 and Local Government (General) Regulation 2005
     7.1.1     The installation and construction of an on-site sewage management facility
     7.1.2     The operation of a system of sewage management

8.1       Local Government Act 1993 (Section 124)
8.2      Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, 1979 (Section 121b)
8.3       Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997
8.4       Emergency Notice and Orders
10.       EVALUATION
Of the remaining items, suffice to say that there again needs to be some of that open and accountable governance we all support Council to try and implement.  Again community input is the missing factor from the whole submission.
We invite Council to defer the finalisation of this draft until adequate community input has been attempted.  We request that an extension of time is granted.  We look forward to assisting Council in arranging a forum so that this important policy is properly considered.
We also request a 90-day extension of the current inspection deadline, as many residents did not realise that it was a drop-dead date.  This will ensure adequate time to resolve ambiguities and for inspections to take place.
A number of our community members have made excellent personal submissions on this draft. The WPCA commends the thought and effort that submissions by members of the offshore community have made. In particular, the points raised by submissions from residents who are also involved with the WPCA are pertinent and we endorse them and request Council’s particular attention: Jane Jobson, Alan Yuille and Margie and Mick Morris. The points raised in these and other submissions not cited, confirm for the WPCA that the draft in its current form requires substantial improvement.
Yours sincerely
Michael Wiener
West Pittwater Community Association

Paul Purvis' submission On-site Sewage Management Strategy

Mr Mark Ferguson
General Manager
Pittwater Council, NSW
June 22nd 2009.
Dear Mark
I have a few comments to express relating to the proposed changes to the treatment of waste water for those of us not able to connect to the Sydney Sewerage System.
I understand the need for council to be involved the management of waste water and in particular for those of us fortunate enough to live offshore in Pittwater. I have been an ‘offshore’ resident for many years  and in that time I have seen a vast improvement in the quality of Pittwater water and the overall self-managed sewerage systems in private use. That is not to say it could not be better. However in recent years the regular inspections by a council officer have proved efficient, economic and a gentle reminder of the need to maintain our sewerage system.
I also understand that council might want to be distant from the inspection of such systems to avoid being held responsible for a serious breach of quality and the possible ensuing claims. However I do not believe that council can continue to abrogate it’s responsibilities to the residents of Pittwater. The proposed changes to the management of waste water smell (pun intended) of council shrinking from it’s day to day responsibilities.
I am also concerned at the potential conflict of interest that might arise if an independent inspection should find fault with a waste water management system and that the proposed ‘repairs’ to that system might be done with the inspector’s organisation or another organisation that is related to the inspector. It has happened in other environments and it may well happen here.
I am proposing that we all step back and review the management of waste water. Set a deadline of, say, October 1st 2009, call a meeting to discuss the concerns of residents and then make a binding decision.
Yours Sincerely
Paul Purvis
Elvina Bay, NSW, 2105

Sewage Inspection
If you still need to do the inspection and don’t want to pay $200, give Gary or Kurt a call.

Gary Hobart
20 Glen Helen Grove
Dural NSW  2158
Telephone: 0418 278 895
E-mail: awtsservice@telstra.com
Kurt Killan -  99977404

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