EPA Victoria has fined East Gippsland Water more than $9,000 over a discharge of more than 30 million litres of wastewater into Macleod Morass in April 2022.

The wastewater was discharged from the Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant following wet weather.  

EPA Gippsland Regional Manager Jessica Bandiera says while Macleod Morass is a wetland that naturally filters water and would likely have absorbed any bacterial pollution before it could reach the Gippsland Lakes, the wastewater did not meet the conditions of the facility’s EPA licence.

“An EPA licence to operate is not just open slather, it is a tool we use to apply stringent, enforceable environmental conditions to the way the business or facility is run,” Ms Bandiera said.

“The licence is designed to recognise that there can be extreme weather but does not make it an excuse to pollute,” she said.

EPA Authorised officers attended the water treatment plant on 4 April 2022, after receiving a permission notification of a discharge of wastewater from East Gippsland Water. 

The officers conducted on-site testing and took samples for laboratory analysis, which showed the water leaving the treatment plant did not meet the required wastewater standard for the discharge to occur. 

The EPA fine of $9,087 is for the unlawful deposit of wastewater into Macleod Morass under Section 115(4) of the Environment Protection Act 2017.  

Under the Environment Protection Act (2017) and the Infringements Act (2006), the operator has the right to have the infringement notice reviewed or be considered by a court.

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24-hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or providing details online at epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

Reviewed 25 July 2022