Programs and initiatives

Citizen science projects

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Citizen science is a relatively new program for EPA Victoria. Our first pilot program, which began in the Latrobe Valley in August 2014, was co-designed with members of the community.

Caring for Waterhole Creek

Community members examine a vegetation sample from Waterhole Creek

Caring for Waterhole Creek program is a collaboration between EPA and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA). This eight-month campaign consists of volunteers monitoring water quality on a fortnightly basis at a number of sites along Waterhole Creek, starting in February 2017.

The aim of the campaign is to gather important water quality information in order to support current and future management and regulatory practices at Waterhole Creek


Microplastic fragments on the ground.

Microplastics are pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm in diameter. The main sources of microplastics are:

  • plastic resin pellets used in the production of plastic
  • microbeads found in cosmetics and other personal care products
  • synthetic clothing fibres
  • fragments of larger plastic products that break down into smaller pieces.

Other pollutants can accumulate on microplastics, which makes them toxic when eaten by aquatic animals such as fish – they can mistake microplastics for food.

EPA has been conducting research with community groups and research partners Sustainability Victoria, Melbourne WaterRMIT and the Port Phillip EcoCentre to better understand the microplastics problem here in Victoria.

By combining traditional science with citizen science, we are aiming to:

  • determine the types of microplastics found in freshwater and marine environments
  • identify potential sources of microplastics
  • detect microplastics hotspots in Port Phillip Bay and the surrounding catchment.  


An observer looks across a valley to estimate visibility reduction from smoke

Smokespotters was a pilot citizen science program that was run in the Latrobe Valley during April and May 2016. A small number of volunteers were trained in how to use visual landmarks to estimate the levels of smoke during the air. The smoke monitoring information collected by volunteers was shared with EPA.

Page last updated on 5 Sep 2017