Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined property developer Pipecon P/L for allowing muddy, sediment laden storm water from their residential development at Hillview Road, Brown Hill, to enter the Yarrowee River.
EPA officers were investigating a report from the community when they found a muddy brown plume stretching approximately three kilometres along the river, near Ballarat.
EPA South West Region Manager Carolyn Francis said it was disappointing that the development site did not have adequate sediment controls to prevent damage to the environment.
“It may just look like mud, but high levels of sediment in waterways can kill aquatic plants, interfere with fish and frog breeding, and in extreme cases, smother the underwater habitat, killing off the fish, plants and many smaller waterborne species that live there,” Ms Francis said.
”All property developers need to be mindful of the potential impact on the environment that their activities can have,” Ms Francis said.
“In this case, the impact on the environment could have been prevented easily, if sediment control had been implemented and maintained to the standards required by EPA Guidelines and local Council permits,” she said.
The water upstream was relatively clear and in stark contrast to the muddy brown stormwater discharging from the Brown Hill development site.
EPA has issued Pipecon P/L with an infringement notice that represents a fine of just under $8,000. EPA has already issued a legally enforceable order to improve sediment control measures, and the company has complied with the order, by installing erosion and sediment control measures that include fabric filters, jute matting, silt fencing, straw bales and grass seeding of bare areas of ground across the site to reduce sediment run-off.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, Pipecon P/L has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
Members of the public can report pollution of the environment to the 24-hour EPA pollution hotline, by calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). There’s more information at www.epa.vic.gov.au/get-involved/report-pollution