Sediment from building and development sites can pollute local waterways.

In March 2018, Wyndham’s Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) and council officers inspecting new building developments.

By the end of 2019, this project involved more than 3050 inspections across 2036 construction sites.  

“We assessed them for sediment and erosion controls. And we made sure they were complying with environmental laws,” the OPLE said. 

This was especially important when subdivisions were close to creeks and rivers. 

“When land gets cleared for development, rain can more easily wash away the top layers of soil. This is because there are no plants and groundcover holding it together,” the OPLE said. 

“It may just look like mud, but high sediment levels can kill aquatic plants, and interfere with fish and frog breeding. In extreme cases, it smothers the underwater habitat, suffocating fish and many smaller waterborne-species.”  

This project involved more than 30 inspections across 20 construction sites. The OPLE gave advice about how to comply with the law:  “We also explained what enforcement EPA can carry out if businesses don’t comply. Building Construction companies need to make sure they’re preventing environmental harm from their sites,” the OPLE said. “This includes protecting stormwater inlets and ensuring discharged water doesn’t pollute waterways.

"Chemicals must get stored the right way. We’re also checking that sites are free of litter and have clean-up kits and dust contingency plans.”

"Chemicals must get stored the right way. We’re also checking that sites are free of litter and have clean-up kits and dust contingency plans.”

A joint investigation with the council resulted in EPA fining a Campbellfield construction company $7,929 in August 2018. They discharged sediment-laden water into the Growling Grass Frog conservation zone that flows into Davis Creek. This is against the law.

“While education is the priority, we’ll take enforcement action when needed,” said Wyndham City Council’s Environment and Water Manager.

“The OPLE program continues to improve responses to local pollution and waste issues in the local community.”

Find out how businesses can:

Read more OPLE case studies

Clearing dust in Casey

Solving odour issues in Dandenong North

Preventing stormwater pollution in Dandenong

Preventing odour harm in Keysborough

Keeping Loddon community safe from waste

Preventing litter on the Surf Coast

Protecting stormwater in Brimbank and Hobsons Bay

Reducing noise in Port Phillip

Reviewed 1 October 2020