Date of offence
Between 14 Sep 2008 and 14 Sep 2008
Type of offence

1. Contravene conditions of a licence, at Balcombe Creek on 14.09.2008, contrary to s.27(2).

2. Cause or permit environmental hazard, at Balcombe Creek on 14.09.2008, contrary to s.27A(1)(c).

3. Pollute waters of Balcombe Creek on 14.09.2008, contrary to s.39(1).

Background of offense

            An EPA investigation confirmed:

  • a discharge of untreated sewage effluent was identified by the Company on 14 September 2008, from a split unmonitored sewer rising main adjacent to the Mt Martha STP;
  • the untreated sewage effluent entered and impacted upon the Balcombe Creek and its surrounding environment;
  • the Company has estimated the size of the spill, based on observation of the spill site and the surrounding area, to be greater than 40,000 litres; and
  • the Company is unable to accurately determine the period of time that the leak went undetected.
Date of court hearing
11 June 2010
Court magistrate
Not Applicable
Court location
Not applicable
Reasons for prosecution
In accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy EPA was satisfied that an enforceable undertaking was an appropriate sanction because South East Water took active responsibility for the offence and the sanction achieved a more effective and long term environmental outcome than a prosecution.

Court orders made

On 11 June 2010, the Authority approved South East Water Ltd’s (SEWL), proposal of an Enforceable Undertaking following a sewage spill of approximately 40,000 litres at the company’s Mt Martha premises in September 2008.

Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, SEWL commits to:

  1. Determining industry ‘best practice’ with respect to early warning leak detections systems in order to establish options for the future application of such a system to its higher risk rising mains in Victoria;
  2. Review and update its rising main ‘renewal and reinspection program’ that assesses the current pipe condition of the company’s higher risk rising sewer mains and sets in place a program to renew or reinspect each rising main based on the risk rating allocated to it.
  3. Establish site specific contingency plans for managing future rising sewer main failures for all higher risk rising mains.
  4. Install and trial a minimum of 3 early warning leak detections systems on a rising main.  Using the information obtained through these trials, SEWL will identify a preferred system and will install and trial this on a minimum of 4 additional higher risk sewer rising mains.
  5. Disseminate the findings from the Undertaking to the water industry and interested community members.
  6. The Undertaking expires on 11 December 2012.

SEWL must engage an EPA appointed Auditor to review the Undertaking and provide written assurance to the Authority that it has been successfully implemented.

Reviewed 13 March 2020