A widespread septic leak has forced the evacuation of dozens of homes in a town on the NSW Mid North Coast.
The situation, believed to be sparked by the recent heavy rainfall in the area, will be assessed daily but police have warned residents could be kept away from the area for as long as seven to 10 days.
Police said at least 45 homes were affected by septic systems discharging into yards and streets at Stuarts Point, about 45 kilometres north of Kempsey.
NSW Health is treating the incident as a public health risk due to the risk of faecal matter and bacteria in the discharge
The local emergency operations controller issued an evacuation order at 9.30pm on Friday, impacting homes on Ocean, First, Second, Third, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth avenues.
Police said emergency services would be door-knocking in the area to tell residents to evacuate and get assessed by NSW Health staff at a nearby evacuation centre.
Even those who have somewhere else to stay for the night will have to be assessed before they leave.
Police warned vehicles in the affected water would be detained.
“Vehicles outside the contaminated area can be moved but occupants must undergo decontamination and evacuation registration prior to departure,” police said.