Section 60 approval for water recycling schemes
Under Section 60 of the Local Government Act 1993, utilities are required to obtain Ministerial approval for water supply and sewerage works including water recycling schemes.
The approvals, facilitated by the Office of Water, provide an independent assessment of the proposed works to ensure they are fit for purpose and provide robust, safe, cost-effective and soundly based solutions that protect public health and meet environmental requirements.
To apply for a Section 60 approval for a water recycling scheme, utilities must:
- undertake initial consultation with the Office of Water
- undertake a comprehensive risk assessment (including holding a risk assessment workshop)
- develop and submit a recycled water management plan.
Important: To ensure all components of your application are submitted, download the Section 60 approval – water recycling schemes: Application checklist (PDF 61 KB).
To complete the risk assessment, utilities should:
- run a risk assessment workshop with participants from a range of backgrounds (including health, engineering, environment and planning) and with a range of expertise (including management, operations and end use). It is recommended that key stakeholders, including representatives from the NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Environment Protection Authority and the Office of Water are invited
- produce a process diagram and description of the recycled water scheme (from source to end use) identifying the critical control points
- identify potential hazards and hazardous events (considering the treatment process, sewerage reticulation, end uses and the environment)
- determine maximum risk levels (using frequency and consequence descriptors as detailed in the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (Phase 1) of all potential hazards and hazardous events
- identify all controls for each event according to its risk level
- reassess potential hazards and hazardous events to determine their controlled or residual risk level. Are the revised levels realistic and acceptable?
- identify risk management controls and critical control points to be implemented in the monitoring, operational and/or emergency response procedures
- ensure that indicative log removal values for treatment and onsite controls match the required log removal values for the highest level of public exposure to the recycled water (refer to the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (Phase 1)).
The results of the risk assessment should be submitted as part of the recycled water management plan.
The Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risks (Phase 1) set out a preventive risk-based approach to managing health and environmental risks associated with water recycling. The approach involves systematically assessing where and how hazards or hazardous events may arise and find their way to the point of use and how to protect consumers and the environment.
To be granted Section 60 approval, utilities are required to develop and submit a recycled water management plan using this approach and addressing 12 elements set out in the guidelines. The elements are:
System analysis and management
- Assessment of the recycled water system
- Preventive measures for recycled water management
- Operational procedures and process control
- Verification of recycled water quality and environmental performance
- Management of incidents and emergencies
- Operator, contractor and end user awareness and training
- Community involvement and awareness
- Research and development
- Documentation and reporting
- Evaluation and audit
- Review and continual improvement
The plan must cover all 12 of the above elements and also include:
- a risk assessment for the overall scheme
- information about the recycled water sources, treatment process and end uses
- a summary of the validation and verification monitoring results
- operational procedures
- strategies for incident and emergency response
- a training and awareness plan
- strategies for operational reporting and auditing
- a communications strategy for stakeholder engagement
- end user agreements (ensuring that all supplier and user responsibilities and obligations are identified).
For a detailed description of the approval process, download the Section 60 approval – water recycling schemes: Approval process (PDF 118 KB).
The approval will be based on the recycled water management plan submitted and the Office of Water will usually attach the Section 60 approval - water recycling schemes: Standard conditions of approval (PDF 43 KB). Additional scheme-specific conditions may apply.
The time taken to assess and approve an application will largely depend on the quality of information provided and the complexity of the scheme. As a minimum it is best to allow 3 months but bear in mind that some applications may take longer if the initial application lacks detail and further information is requested by the Office of Water.
The Office of Water is currently developing a recycled water management plan template which is specific to NSW regulations. In the interim, refer to the Section 60 approval – water recycling schemes: Application checklist (PDF 61 KB).