Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a company that manages a lifestyle village in Leopold more than $7,700 for breaching conditions of its EPA licence.
EPA South West Manager Carolyn Francis said DZZ Pty Ltd, which holds an EPA licence to discharge treated wastewater to Port Phillip Bay, failed to report to EPA levels of E.coli and chlorine residue above those permitted in its licence.
“In December 2016 the company discharged wastewater to Port Phillip Bay that contained levels of E.coli well above its licence limits and higher than allowable levels of residual chlorine were found discharging from the treatment plant in January; both breaches were not reported immediately to EPA as required under its licence,” Ms Francis said.
Ms Francis said EPA was provided with laboratory reports of water sampling by DZZ in February.
“After receiving the reports, EPA carried out an investigation and confirmed the breach of licence limits for E.coli and residual chlorine.
“Licence holders must immediately report any breaches of licence limits to EPA as this allows us to quickly respond to incidents posing risk to public health or the environment.
“Conditions on an EPA licence are there to regulate industries’ impact on the environment and to protect the community and future generations.”
Ms Francis said that DZZ reports had shown E.coli levels recorded at 140,000 orgs/100mL in December, and residual chlorine recorded at 4.1 mg/L on 12 January 2017.
“On receiving the elevated E.coli result in December 2016, the company used additional chlorine at the treatment plant to reduce E.coli levels, but appears to have added too much,” Ms Francis said.
“Elevated E.coli can pose a serious health risk to humans. Elevated levels of chlorine can also cause significant harm to the marine environment. Good wastewater treatment means getting the balance right.”
Ms Francis said DZZ reported the E.coli licence breach may have been caused by an object blocking its treatment system, which greatly reduced the treatment capacity of the plant.
“To ensure licence limit breaches are immediately reported, EPA has also issued a notice requiring the company to document its wastewater treatment monitoring and reporting procedures,” Ms Francis said.
“EPA will also provide advice to DZZ about how to improve the management of its aging wastewater treatment system, including the potential to connect to reticulated sewer.”
Ms Francis said EPA officers would continue to conduct inspections of the site to ensure the company was complying with its licence conditions.
Members of the public are encouraged to report suspected pollution to EPA’s pollution hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).