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Approval and inspection of treatment works

Apply for water treatment and sewerage works approvals

Under relevant acts, including the Regulatory and Assurance Framework, the department assesses, approves and inspects water treatment and sewerage works to ensure they are fit for purpose and can manage risks.

Works that need approval

Water utilities are required to obtain approval for water supply and sewerage works, including water recycling schemes. This requirement falls under Section 60 of the Local Government Act 1993.

The department’s approach to assessing and approving works is outlined in the Regulatory framework for local water utilities (PDF, 1100.53 KB). More guidance on the department’s approach, including what works need approval, what documentation to provide and the assessment criteria, is available in our document Applying for water treatment and sewerage works (PDF, 1004.25 KB).

How to apply

Apply for an approval

The online application form is available via our WAMS portal (Water Actions Management System). A fact sheet about applying online (PDF, 252.66 KB) is available for reference.

Meet with the department

We encourage local water utilities to engage the department before making a submission. You can contact the department at section60@dpie.nsw.gov.au.

This will usually be in the form of an informal meeting. During the meeting we will:

  • listen to you and ask questions to understand the strategic context of the proposed works and/or the issues you are facing
  • walk through the template application form with you
  • explain the matters that must be considered as part of the approval.

Following the meeting, you will receive meeting minutes summarising the key points of the discussion together with a reference number to provide a continuous and easily accessible channel of communication between you and the department throughout the later phases of the approvals process and the life of the project.

Assessment criteria

The department is required to consider certain matters before granting approval. The criteria the department will apply to assess an application include whether the proposed works:

  • are fit for purpose
  • can manage risks
  • can meet public health and environmental standards
  • can meet relevant regulations
  • are aligned to the competency of the local water utility.

Documentation that must be submitted

Local water utilities must supply the following information with their application:

  • works description
  • risk assessment
  • early design for works
  • documented experience
  • confirmation of environmental planning assessment.

Additional optional guidance

Optional guidance on water treatment options study and a similar note for sewerage works can be found below.

Resources to support recycled water projects

Recycled water risk assessment

The results of the risk assessment should be submitted as part of the recycled water management plan.

To complete the risk assessment, utilities should:

Risk assessment workshop

  • Organise a risk assessment workshop with diverse participants from backgrounds like health, engineering, environment, and planning, with varying expertise in management, operations, and end use.
  • Invite key stakeholders, including representatives from NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Environment Protection Authority, and the Department.

Process diagram and description

Create a process diagram outlining the recycled water scheme from source to end use, highlighting critical control points.

Identify hazards and events

Identify potential hazards and hazardous events, considering treatment process, sewerage reticulation, end uses, and environmental factors.

Determine maximum risk levels

Determine maximum risk levels for potential hazards and hazardous events using frequency and consequence descriptors from Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling.

Implement controls

Identify controls for each event based on their risk level.

Reassess potential hazards and hazardous events to determine controlled or residual risk levels, ensuring revised levels are realistic and acceptable.

Risk management controls

Identify risk management controls and critical control points to be integrated into monitoring, operational, and emergency response procedures.

Ensure log removal values

Ensure that indicative log removal values for treatment and onsite controls align with required values for the highest public exposure to recycled water as per Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling.

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:


  1. Commitment

System analysis and management

  1. Assessment of the recycled water system
  2. Preventive measures for recycled water management
  3. Operational procedures and process control
  4. Verification of recycled water quality and environmental performance
  5. Management of incidents and emergencies

Supporting requirements

  1. Operator, contractor and end user awareness and training
  2. Community involvement and awareness
  3. Research and development
  4. Documentation and reporting


  1. Evaluation and audit
  2. Review and continual improvement

Contact us

  • If you represent a local water utility and you are uncertain about what works need approval, please email us using this link: Works approval advice
  • The department is currently working to make the approval instruments and the notices of determination publicly available. If you would like to know more about this data or have any questions related to works approvals, please email us using this link: WAMS portal feedback or question.
  • The general email address for local water utility matters is: section60@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Additional information and resources

We have developed materials to assist utilities in the planning template, which is specific to NSW regulations. This includes the following resources:

NSW information sheets for recycled water management systems

Support and advice

In addition to our regulatory role, we give technical and other advice to local water utilities proactively and whenever requested by the utility. The department can assist local water utilities with developing the project from concept through to tendering and commissioning.

Support and advice

Regulatory and assurance framework

The regulatory and assurance framework is designed to make sure that local water utilities manage risks effectively and strategically. It applies to local water utilities in regional NSW.

More about Regulatory and assurance framework