Source: Government of Victoria 3
Headline: EPA fines Central Highlands Water over sewage spills
Two spills involving large volumes of raw sewage will cost Central Highlands Regional Water Corporation nearly $16,000 for breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued two Infringement Notices, fining the water authority over spills that took place at Creswick and Buninyong, ten days apart.
EPA Executive Director, Regional Services, Paul Stacchino says both spills led to very high levels of E. coli bacteria in nearby waterways. This can cause both pollution and human health risks.
“The Creswick spill came early in December, and involved an estimated 300,000 litres from the grounds of the old Creswick Waste Water Treatment Plant in Fisher Road,” Mr Stacchino said.
“The sewage flowed into Creswick Creek after a joint failure in an underground sewerage line, caused by natural movement of the ground,” he said.
The water corporation contained the spill, erected warning signs and conducted a door knock and letter drop to warn residents downstream. The a clean up included pumping out truckloads of waste water.
“EPA’s water testing, and sampling by Central Highlands Water, confirmed the spill had caused high levels of bacteria in Creswick Creek,” Mr Stacchino said.
The Buninyong spill took place in late November during upgrade works at a pumping station in Learmonth Street.
“The failure of pipe fittings at the pumping station late at night sent an estimated 72,000 litres of raw sewage down a stormwater drain, into a reed bed, then into the retention stormwater lagoons at the Buninyong Golf Course and into Union Jack Creek,” Mr Stacchino said.
“Again, water sampling by EPA and Central Highlands Water revealed very high levels of E. coli bacteria,” he said.
The water corporation had 48,000 litres of contaminated water pumped from the reed bed, erected warning signs and undertook environmental monitoring of the affected waterways to ensure the levels of bacteria returned to safe levels.
EPA’s expectation of water corporations is very clear – they must have systems, processes and controls in place to ensure any works on their assets do not cause an impact on the environment,”
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, Central Highlands Regional Water Corporation has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notices reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
Mr Stacchino said members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s hotline, on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).