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Yarra Bay Action Plan Action 9: Targeting Pollution Hotspots

A Cleaner Yarra and Bay: A Plan of Action (YBAP) is a 17 point plan that outlines actions the government will undertake to ensure water quality in the Yarra and Port Phillip Bay is protected. Action 9 under the plan, for which EPA is the lead agency, requires targeting pollution hotspots to improve compliance by industry, land development and other sources of pollution in our waterways.

 red discoloured water in a shallow creek

While most industry and land managers do the right thing, poor waste and stormwater management practices by some continue to pollute waterways.

 

Action 9 is covered by the following three key activities:

  1. Using a risk-based approach to tackle current pollution in waterways through identification and prioritisation of pollution hotspots.
  2. Effectively following up identified hotspots by undertaking investigations and compliance activities.
  3. Ensuring a collaborative approach is maintained between the YBAP partners and other stakeholders in targeting pollution hotspots through sharing knowledge, skills and expertise.

Water creek discolouration

 

Eumemmering Creek Catchment, Dandenong South

Funded by Melbourne Water, stormwater sampling was conducted by the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) in the Eumemmering Creek Catchment, Dandenong South. This sampling showed high readings of various contaminants in the area, including metals (eg. barium, chromium, copper) and hydrocarbons (TPH, BTEX).  This has impacted the receiving wetlands and could potentially impact Eumemmering Creek.

The project aims to identify sources of the stormwater pollution. In order to do this, EPA is working with the City of Greater Dandenong Council as a co-regulator.  EPA and Council are also educating local businesses to increase the general environmental understanding of businesses in this precinct, especially with regards to waste storage, stormwater management and general housekeeping.

Ten inspections were completed in August, 2014. Though no clear source of pollution was found, there will be follow up investigations to further pinpoint potential sources. Three remedial notices have also been issued related to the storage of waste and bunding as there was a likelihood of stormwater contamination.

 

Campbellfield National Business Park

EPA received multiple reports of discharges of milky white substance into the National Business Park Stormwater Retaining Basin (the Basin) in Campbellfield.  The discharges didn’t last long and traditional investigative techniques were unable to detect the source.

This hotspot project aims to identify the source of the discharges into the Basin.  As part of the project, EPA is working to increase the general environmental understanding of businesses in this precinct, especially with regards to waste storage, stormwater management and general housekeeping.

EPA conducted 12 inspections of the precinct and issued four remedial notices in July 2014.  Further inspections have been scheduled.

 

Steele Creek Catchment, Airport West

Community group, Friends of Steele Creek, were concerned about water quality in the Steele Creek Catchment. They expressed these concerns to Moonee Valley City Council and EPA, which instigated the Steele Creek hotspots project.

Sampling data confirmed pollution in the Steele Creek Catchment, Airport West.  It is likely that pollution resulted from industrial activity within the Airport West industrial area. 

This industrial area has over 300 businesses.  These businesses are not regularly inspected by EPA and may not know their environmental obligations.  Education packs were distributed to businesses to address this.  As part of the education campaign, a selection of businesses was inspected in June 2014.  The inspections focused on bunding, chemical storage, waste disposal and stormwater management.  No major issues were observed.

 

Darebin Creek, Heidelberg West

Darebin Creek experienced frequent pollution in the form of detergent foam in the first half of 2012. This caused fish deaths and analysis of creek waters showed elevated levels of surfactants (which produce foam).

The pollution was found to be coming from an industrial area in Heidelberg West that drains into a common outlet, the Lilimur Avenue drain, then to Darebin Creek. EPA, the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) and Banyule City Council launched a campaign of media, education, industrial site visits and scientific analysis, which stopped the pollution.

A publication was developed and can be found here

 

Chinaman’s Creek

Routine water quality monitoring picked up high levels of zinc in Chinaman’s Creek on the Mornington Peninsula. The EPA and the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) were able to trace this pollution back to Rosebud West Industrial Precinct by deploying specific in-drain samplers. This work was funded by Melbourne Water.

EPA together with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council inspected a selection of businesses within the precinct during May and June 2013.  Inspections focused on bunding, chemical storage, waste disposal and stormwater management. 

No clear single source of the zinc pollution was identified and it is likely that the zinc originated from an accumulation of sources, such as sheet metal roofing.  However various other non-compliances were observed and notices were issued to duty holders or passed on to Council to follow up on.

EPA will continue to monitor the results of water quality sampling from the area.

 

Granulated Articulated Carbon sampler in drain

 

Mercury in Campbellfield

A Melbourne Water wetlands study indicated sediment within the sediment pond at National Business Park, a retention basin in Campbellfield, had high mercury concentrations.  This resulted in a sediment assessment project to evaluate nearby waterways for possible mercury contamination by the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM).  Results confirmed that downstream sites were contaminated with mercury.  CAPIM’s sampling using a range of in-drain passive samplers and traced the mercury contamination to one specific sampling site. EPA investigated this problem and found the source of mercury. EPA issued a number of notices in late 2012 and is looking at the issue of mercury in waterways as part of a broader project.

Program Partners

Department of Environment and Primary Industries Environmental Protection Agency Melbourne Water