Loo Laws

Sitting atop my besa-block throne I reflect on the inspiration that moved me to build my first composting toilet. My Mum. She came to visit the pioneers shack at my place a year or so after I had bought it and said she wasn’t coming back until there was a “proper toilet”. So naturally I erected the first permanent structure on my land and sent a picture to her of my son squatting over the hole (there still were no walls) and jokingly said she could come and visit again soon. She was quick to lend me some money to build the superstructure. Mum’s throne is still working well and even received the blessing of the local council. I am sure many of us that have built our own loo’s are very proud of the fact that they moved into the modern era (and away from the shit pit). In my years building, servicing and maintaining loo’s, I have witnessed some very innovative and effective solutions, often inspiring changes to my own designs. This is the way of grass roots evolution and we are the better for it most of the time. The NSW Local Government Act Regulations, which govern the legality of waste management facilities, recognise this by allowing for owner builders to build their own toilets. In the regulations, it is stated that facilities must be accredited by NSW Health unless they are those “that are designed, and are to be constructed, by the owner or occupier of the premises on which they are to be installed” or “are built for the purpose of testing”. These clauses give permission to councils to approve composting toilets that are not accredited. Council may ask that the toilets be built to the Australian / New Zealand standard for waterless composting toilets to ensure that public health standards are met, but they cannot, in my opinion, legally or ethically require an accredited composting toilet to be used to replace an owner built one, unless an upgrade is impossible. If councils were pro-active in helping low income earners and inspired loo builders they would provide guidelines for upgrading existing facilities to standard and perhaps even participate in trials of testing for some more common owner built systems, such as wheelie bin loos. Council officers are now doing the rounds of my local communities inspecting systems. I would ask that they get permission prior to entering properties (this has been an issue) and go easy on people that sometimes have few economic options for expensive upgrades. It would be a shame to repeat the historical mistakes a certain coastal council made by issuing fines willy-nilly as a part of a revenue raising exercise. I would be interested in hearing from people or communities that have been having issues with council. A public response from council clarifying this issue would be great too.


Contact us

Quick links