Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has announced enhanced soil and water testing in flood-impacted communities to support clean-up efforts.

EPA Chief Environmental Scientist Professor Mark Taylor announced the initiative has already started in the flood areas of western Melbourne and is being rolled out across Victoria. 

“By testing the flood water and soil we get a better understanding of any potential contamination issues, especially in those areas hardest hit by the floods,” Professor Taylor said. 

As part of the program extra water quality monitors have been placed in the Maribyrnong River, with the monitoring data feeding into a dedicated Maribyrnong Watch page on EPA’s website – launched today.

“Our Maribyrnong River E. coli results from yesterday have come back low, however we know that flood waters carry a range of risks, including bacteria, so we recommend continuing to avoid contact with waters.

“EPA officers have already started going door to door to collect soil samples. Individual results will be provided directly to property owners and overall results to councils to help inform their clean-up efforts,” he said. 

Soil samples will be collected and analysed for E.coli, trace elements such as metals and metalloids and organic chemicals such as PFAS and petroleum hydrocarbons.

“We understand this is a difficult time for many Victorians and will continue to provide information that can be used to reduce the risks they face.”

EPA has also re-activated its Beach Report and Yarra Watch service ahead of summer, providing updates on water quality to help community plan their time near the water in a safe way.  

“Water quality in the bay in particular, but also many beaches around the southern and western Victorian coastline, has been badly affected by the flood and heavy rains. EPA always warns not to swim near drains, creek and river outlets for 48 hours after a heavy rain event. 

“We have launched the Beach Report and Yarra Watch advisory service early to give Victorians up-to-date advice on water quality, including access to an SMS alert system.” 

Flood affected residents can obtain soil testing at their property by phoning EPA’s Contact Centre on 1300 372 842 and selecting option 8.  If you require assistance with clean-up, please phone Emergency Recovery Victoria on 1800 560 760. 

Maribyrnong Watch - www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/flood-impacted-rivers

Beach report and Yarra Watch - www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/summer-water-quality/beach-report 

Reviewed 20 October 2022