What is a water approval and do you need one?

29 July 2019

In Queensland, some councils no longer have control of water and sewerage utilities with a number of Distributor-Retailer Authorities being established as statutory bodies and service providers about a decade ago. Examples of these entities are Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) and Unitywater (UW).

Because these providers are not part of a council they are not involved in the assessment of development applications. However development has an impact on their water and sewerage networks so they need to assess any applications from that perspective. 

Councils that control their own water and sewerage networks (e.g. Logan, Redland and Gold Coast) still assess the impact of a project as part of their development application process. For projects in areas where a Distributor-Retailer operates, a water approval is required from them for most types of development in addition to your development approval from council. A water approval essentially replaces the assessment that used to be undertaken by a council engineer in relation to water and sewerage infrastructure. 

In addition to the water approval, these providers are entitled to charge contributions for additional demand on the water and sewerage network. When you apply for a water approval they will generate a Infrastructure Charges Notice as well. These costs will be on top of the Infrastructure Charges Notice levied by the council in a development approval for transport, stormwater, and community purposes.

A water approval is required from a utilities provider if you want to connect, disconnect or alter a connection to the local water and sewerage network. You will be responsible for the cost of all necessary work to make or change connections as well as any disconnections. In some cases a water approval is still required even if you do not plan on connecting to the water or sewer network or adding any additional demand on the infrastructure.

Both homeowners and developers can trigger the need for a water approval. Homeowners undertaking major renovations or building a new home might need to submit a connection application. Developers are likely to need a water approval for most projects, particularly if they are increasing density on a site or changing the use of a building. 

In order to understand the scale of works that would be required for a site, developers can request a Service Advice Notice (SAN) in the early stages of the planning process. This notice will outline if the development can be connected to the network and provides similar information to what you would expect from a council prelodgement meeting.

Depending on the scale of your project the existing connection to the water and sewerage network might be sufficient. If it is not you will need to consider this in advance to ensure you understand the likely scope of works you will be required to undertake to connect the development to the network. If there are capacity issues in the network, upgrades may be required, which will likely add time and expense.

Any standard connection works will likely be completed by the utility provider. Standard works are usually those undertaken on an existing lot or a one-into-two lot residential subdivision. Standard connections are simpler and might cost less in terms of the application fee and may also be processed faster. To qualify as a standard connection there are criteria that must be met, usually related to the location of the property relative to existing infrastructure and the size of the lot. If your approval is not considered a standard connection then you will need a property service connection. 

Once you have your Water Approval from the utility provider works can proceed and once finished you will get a connection certificate. 

If you need help with a Water Approval for your project we offer obligation free quotes. All you need to do is email us via office@consultplanning.com.au or give us a quick call on 1300 017 540.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, Consult Planning does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Requirements and standards frequently change so every individual proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

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