Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Yarra Valley Water $7,773 after a broken and blocked pipe allowed sewage to spill into a drain at Don Road, Healesville.
EPA officers attended the site in March 2017 and saw a sewer point in the middle of an open grassed area showing obvious signs of a sewage discharge leading to the drain.
“The spill equated to nearly 37,000 litres of sewage and was caused by a build-up of non-degradable material due to breaks in the pipe and the intrusion of tree roots into the sewer which caused solid materials to collect at the Don Rd site,” said EPA Manager Metro, Dan Hunt.
“Sampling from the drain at the discharge point as well as points up and downstream showed high levels of contamination that took eight days to return to normal.”
Mr Hunt said the spill posed no public health issues at the site of the leak because the sewer point is in a reserve which does not have public access. The Don Road Drain empties into the Watts River, but the discharge point into the river was dry at the time of the contamination.
“At the levels recorded, had the incident occurred at a more public location, the risk to the environment and the public would have been significant,” said Mr Hunt.
“Test sites downstream in the drain showed that in less remote locations there was a high presence of E. coli that could have been harmful to humans and animals. This added to the urgency with which EPA addressed the matter.
“Yarra Valley Water has undertaken extensive clean-up work of the waterway and conducted CCTV inspection of the sewage pipe which confirmed the tree root intrusion and cracked piping.
“Later sampling indicated that water quality parameters had returned to pre-spill conditions.”