EPA Victoria has fined a Poowong landholder $1,817 over a spill of dairy effluent that flowed through a neighbouring property and into Pheasant Creek.

EPA Gippsland Regional Manager Zac Dornom says the investigation began with a report from a member of the public in August 2021.

“This case should be a warning to every landholder that mismanaged dairy effluent is a waste of good fertiliser for your own pasture and a hazard to the environment, and can be a nasty surprise for your neighbours,” Mr Dornom said.

“This badly maintained effluent system, and a belated effort to clean it out, combined to put effluent sludge right where it had the potential to do the most harm,” he said.

EPA officers found the property’s two-pond effluent management system appeared to have been left without desludging for some years.  The sludge had finally been excavated and then left by the side of the ponds.  The land was steep, and rain sent the sludge flowing down the hill, across paddocks, through a neighboring properly and into the nearby creek. 

“Regular maintenance over preceding years or an effective system for containing the sludge during the excavation would have prevented the spill, saved the landholder a fine, and protected the environment and neighbouring farms,” Mr Dornom said.

“Without those sensible measures, it has been left to EPA to sanction the responsible landholder and ensure they take actions to prevent any further spills,” he said.

Since the spill, EPA officers have inspected the property several times, provided compliance advice to the landholder, and required proper maintenance and upgrades to the effluent system.

The landholder has been fined for an infringement for the unlawful deposit of effluent waste under Section 115(4) of the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Under the Environment Protection Act 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 6 May 2022