Central Highlands Water fined for sewerage spills

File Photo

File Photo

Central Highlands Water has been fined a total of $16,000 for spilling over 370,000 litres of sewage on Creswick and Buninyong late last year. 

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued two Infringement Notices for the spillages that happened ten days apart. 

EPA Executive Director of regional services, Paul Stacchino said the spills caused high levels of E’Coli contamination in local waterways and put people at risk. 

“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,” he said.

“The sewage flowed into Creswick Creek after a joint failure in an underground sewerage line, caused by natural movement of the ground.

“EPA’s water testing, and sampling by Central Highlands Water, confirmed the spill had caused high levels of bacteria in Creswick Creek.” 

Central Highlands Water managed to contain the spill and put up warning signs and conducted a door knock and letter drop to warn residents downstream. 

The a clean up included pumping truckloads of waste water out of the creek system. 

A few days earlier in Buninyong, another sewage spill took place 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.

“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.”

Central Highlands Water Managing Director, Paul O’Donohue said the company were committed to rectifying the spills as quickly as possible to maintain public safety. 

“Whilst these unforseen occurrences did not cause interruption to our services, we remain committed to refining our systems and processes to ensure environmental safety and public health remain a priority at Central Highlands Water,” he said. 

“Working with the community is a high priority for CHW and we thank those community champions who take the time to advise CHW of any concerns.

“We continue to work closely with contractors, industry partners and the EPA to mitigate any future risks.”