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Summary of Drain Detectives Results: Dec 2018 - Mar 2019

Drain Detectives is an innovative project using information from community and simple sensors to better understand and manage drains causing pollution at our beaches. Drain Detectives will determine the extent of drain flows at five beaches that are known to have had water quality impacted by stormwater drain pollution. Beaches being targeted in 2018-19 are Sandringham, Mentone, Mordialloc, Dromana and Rye.

The Drain Detectives citizen science program is now is now in full swing. From December 2018 to 1 March 2019, we received 195 reports from the public and EPA trained citizen scientists! Reporting will continue until the end of May, and begin again in late 2019.

Thank you to all our reporters for their contribution so far. Anyone can submit a report by following the instructions on the signs at the five beaches. Every report helps EPA to better understand pollution going into stormwater drains and into Port Phillip Bay. For specific information at each site, click the link below.

Anyone can make reports by following the instructions on Drain Detectives signs. Source: EPA Victoria

The story so far – December 2018 to March 2019
EPA has trained 57 volunteers to make reports and sample water. These volunteers contributed 80% of all reports! The remaining reports were submitted by members of the general public at five drain signs. We had more reports in January than February or December. Some beaches had more reports than others - our most popular beach for reporting was Sandringham, followed by Dromana. Mordialloc had the fewest reports.

88 per cent of reports showed nil or low flows from drains. Half of all low flows were recorded during or after rainfall, where stormwater drains would be expected to be flowing. This information is useful to EPA, because it tells us there are drains that have low flows outside times of rain.

We had 21 reports submitted observing medium or high flows. One third of these reports were submitted when there had not been recent rainfall. These reports are useful for EPA investigation, as the flows are unlikely to be from stormwater. We do not have enough data yet to see a pattern in these flows. Any similar observations reported at a similar time of day may lead to further investigation.

Ammonia testign at Sandringham Beach

Citizen science volunteers taking ammonia samples at Sandringham Beach. Source: EPA Victoria

Development and trial of sensors

The application of low cost water quality sensors for monitoring flow in drains has been in development, with sensors being trialed and improved so they can be installed in May.

Sensors will be placed in five drains to measure flow depth, conductivity and water temperature. The data they will provide will add to the data we are receiving from community reports, allowing us to build a better picture of high risk drain flows at Bay beaches.

Program Partners