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Approvals for water and sewer as part of developments in NSW

It is often asked how approvals for water and sewer are addressed in NSW and how this considered as part of the DA process. This blog post provides a brief explanation. Generally water and sewer assets are controlled by local Councils, with the main exceptions of the Sydney Water area and the Hunter Water area.

For developments within the Sydney and Illawarra areas, approvals from Sydney Water are generally obtained after the DA has been approved. For minor developments (a single house or less), requirements can generally be met by Sydney Water stamping the plans (there will normally be a condition of approval on the DA to reflect this).

For larger developments, a “section 73 compliance certificate” will generally need to be obtained. This is obtained through appointing a “water servicing coordinator”. After the DA is approved, the water servicing coordinator will obtain a “notice of requirements” from Sydney Water, these are requirements that need to be addressed prior to and during construction, and once all works are completed, a 73 compliance certificate is issued by Sydney Water, meaning that an occupation certificate or subdivision certificate can then be issued.

Section 78 of the Sydney Water Act 1994 provides that a consent authority must notify Sydney Water of development applications that would:

(a)  increase the demand for water supplied by the Corporation, or

(b)  increase the amount of waste water that is to be removed by the Corporation, or

(c)  damage or interfere with the Corporation’s works, or

(d)  adversely affect the Corporation’s operations,

However the consent authority is not required to do so if they do not approve the application or impose a condition of approval requiring a compliance certificate. For this reason, the vast majority of Development Applications are not referred to Sydney Water, but rather are approved with a condition of approval that the plans be stamped or a compliance certificate be obtained.

For Hunter Water, plans are generally stamped prior to lodging the DA with Council. Larger developments within the Hunter Water area may require a “Section 50 Certificate”. This involves first obtaining a notice of requirements from Hunter Water, with detailed design and construction proceeding before the final certificate is issued.

Where the local Council is the water authority, most of these applications are dealt with under the local government Act after the DA has been approved, although each Council may have different requirements and may look at water and sewer issues as part of DA assessment. Local government water/sewer approvals are commonly known as "Section 68" applications and are often lodged by the plumber/contractor performing works on the project.

Water and sewer infrastructure proposed by Sydney Water, Hunter Water, a local Council or another authority may also require some kind of approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, which depending on the scope of works, could be a Development Application, Development without Consent (a Review of Environmental Factors), or a State Significant Development/State Significant Infrastructure application.

Water supply authorities will often comment on planning proposals/rezonings to ensure that rezoned land is capable of being serviced by water/sewer and this is considered by Councils and the NSW Government in deciding whether to approve a proposal.

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