LCAs and Building in a Catchment Area

Land Capability Assessments and  Special Water Catchment areas

A special catchment is an area where water is collected by the natural landscape. In a catchment, all rain and surface water eventually flows to a creek, river, lake or ocean, or into the groundwater system.

Drinking water for many of the towns within the Hepburn Municipality is sourced from natural waterways.

If this source becomes contaminated, the safety of our drinking water supplies can be affected

There are tight controls on developing land in drinking water catchment areas as poorly planned development can pose a risk to the quality of both surface water and groundwater supplies.

The Hepburn Planning Scheme includes the Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO) that triggers a requirement to obtain a Planning Permit for a number of developments that may pose a risk to water quality

Any application for planning permit that involves the development of a new dwelling that is not connected to a reticulated sewerage system and a septic/wastewater management system is required to be installed, a Land Capability Assessment is required to be submitted with such a planning application.

A Land Capability Assessment (LCA)is a report that assesses the viability of onsite wastewater management on a site where there is no reticulated sewerage.  They are detailed written reports that assess various aspects of development sites, including the way it is proposed to be developed in the absence of reticulated sewer. The primary focus of an LCA is to determine the viability of onsite wastewater management by considering the risks presented to public health, environment, and local amenity. An LCA provides vital information on site-specific limitations for onsite wastewater management, as well as suitable management strategies to reduce impacts of the system on its surrounds.

An onsite wastewater management system or ‘septic tank system’ as stated in the Act, is required where reticulated sewer is not available. A septic tank system is a system for the bacterial, biological, chemical or physical treatment of sewage and includes all tanks, beds, sewers, drains, pipes, fittings, appliances and land used in connection with the system. This definition is provided in the Environment Protection Act 1970 along with other legal requirements for onsite wastewater management systems.

The objectives of an LCA are listed in the Code of Practice – Onsite Wastewater Management 2016 to include:

  • Assess the capability of the site to sustainably utilize and manage wastewater within the allotment boundaries.
  • Assess the capability of catchments to sustainably utilize and manage wastewater within sub-catchments or specific regions (where applicable).
  • Determine high risk and sensitive areas within allotments and within catchments.
  • Gather the relevant geographical and social information to adequately inform the process of designing the best practicable and most sustainable type of onsite wastewater treatment and effluent recycling/disposal system that should protect the health of the householders and the community, and protect the local environment from pollution.
  • Formulate a sustainable management plan (in accordance with the Code of Practice –Onsite Wastewater Management 2013 and the conditions in the treatment system CA and the Council Permit) that:
    • Must be carried out by the property owner to ensure that impacts on the environment or public health do not occur or are minimised.
    • Will ensure the beneficial re-use of the treated water, organic matter and nutrients (where applicable).

When is an LCA Required?

An LCA is required to support all applications to subdivide land, build a new dwelling or extend an existing dwelling that will result in additional bedrooms, or rooms that could be used as a bedroom (studio/office) in unsewered areas of the Hepburn Shire.

This will present at the Planning Permit Application stage. The LCA must provide sufficient detail about wastewater management and demonstrate that wastewater can be maintained within the allotment boundaries.

For more information go to the EPA Victoria website.

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