EPA Victoria sampling in flood affected areas along the Maribyrnong River has found there’s a lot less contamination in the floodwaters and mud than was first suspected.

A team of EPA scientists took samples of mud and water from the river and public open space this week and the early test results show comparatively low amounts of contamination.

EPA Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, Professor Mark Patrick Taylor, says there’s more to be done, but the test results so far show encouraging signs.

“Preliminary data on the sediment samples from public open space came back this afternoon, showing that none of the contaminants of concern, hydrocarbons, PFAS, trace elements or polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were at high enough levels to cause any concerns about human health,” Prof Taylor said.

“The levels of pathogens, E.coli and enterococci are below the trigger point where we would have for any health concerns for recreational activities involving contact with the water,” he said.

EPA scientists had expected fairly low levels because the huge amount of flood water coming in from comparatively clean catchments upstream is diluting any contaminants. 

“The biological contaminants we’ve tested for are not the only pathogens, but they are indicative of what’s there.  The usual rule of steering clear of flood waters still applies because they can be unpredictable, but these early signs are encouraging,” Prof Taylor said.

EPA officers have been in the field again today, and will be this weekend, collecting samples from people’s gardens in the flood affected areas, and EPA will be reporting back on the results in the next few days.

“We anticipate the samples from people’s gardens will be similar to the samples we took from public open space.  I don’t expect the results to be very different, but we will provide updates as we go and a summary of what we found in the water and the soil for residents in the area,” Prof Taylor said.


There’s more information on flood affected rivers and the testing program along the Maribyrnong on the EPA website: epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/flood-impacted-rivers

EPA Beach Report has daily water quality forecasts for beaches around the Bay and the Yarra: epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/summer-water-quality/beach-report 

EPA yesterday announced a program of enhanced soil and water testing in flood-impacted communities to support clean-up efforts: epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/epa-announces-flood-testing-regime

Reviewed 21 October 2022