Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has released the Lead in Wetlands Study Preliminary Investigation examining potential lead contamination in eleven lake and reservoir systems in Kerang and District Lakes and in the Western District Lakes.
Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood said lead levels posed no risk to human health in either sediment or water sampling based on this screening assessment but also noting the small number of samples taken.
Earlier this year, local community members raised concerns that lead shot from duck hunting may have been left in the lakes causing lead contamination, and a possible human and environmental health issue.
According to the EPA Study: "The results of this preliminary investigation indicate that impacts from the historical use of lead shot to hunt waterfowl has not siginficantly affected water quality. Results do not exceed the recommended recreational livestock water quality or sediment quality guidelines for lead."
However, the report also noted “Overall, water quality at these lakes can be improved to maintain the ecosystem values and beneficial uses of the lakes.”
“Lead concentrations in the water and sediment of the lakes tested is low and below guidelines,” said Dr Hinwood who noted lead shot for duck hunting was banned in Victoria in 1994 (for more information go to http://www.gma.vic.gov.au/hunting/duck/hunting-methods/non-toxic-shot) .
“Though testing methods were different, EPA was able to compare these current results with sampling taken in 1989 which show comparable results giving us additional support for our conclusions.
“We will now work with local stakeholders to establish opportunities to improve the overall quality of these very important waterways.”
The lakes tested were:,
Southern sites Western District Lakes - Lake Murdeduke, Lake Colongulac, Lake Martin, Lake Colac at Rifle Range, Lake Colac at Camp Ground and Lake Tooliorook
Northern sites (Kerang and District Lakes) - Lake Buloke, Lake Boort, Lake Cullen South, Cairn Curran Reservoir North, Cairn Curran Reservoir South.
The EPA Lead in Wetlands Study Preliminary Investigation is published in full and available to download by clicking here
EPA will be exploring opportunities for testing at more wetlands to examine metals concentrations more broadly.