Compliance and enforcement

Stormwater contamination in urban areas

Urban stormwater is the biggest contributor to waterway degradation. Large volumes of run-off and highly contaminated water can enter Port Phillip Bay and make it unsafe for aquatic life and human enjoyment. Contaminants and inappropriate flows come from sewerage overflows, illegal connections and discharges, failing infrastructure and rainwater washing wastes from roads, footpaths and other impermeable surfaces into waterways.

EPA aims to improve waterway health by minimising contaminants from both point and dispersed sources.

EPA has identified metals and hydrocarbons as key contaminants impacting the urban waterways of Melbourne, and traced the source, primarily, back to industrial parks. This has driven the need for targeted activity to tackle these sources.

What is EPA focusing on?

In 2014–15 EPA will continue to focus on pollution hotspots and use our refined understanding of key sources of metals and hydrocarbons to direct our activity to tackle industrial areas and high-risk industries.

EPA works with Melbourne Water, the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management, local councils and other partners in A Cleaner Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay Action Plan to identify pollution hotspots, gather and analyse evidence, identify alleged sources, and when required, take compliance and enforcement action. Through evidence resulting from these partnerships EPA was able to focus in on specific sectors such as the electroplating industry as a contributor to metal pollution in urban stormwater.

Through our work in 2013–14, EPA made a short-term impact in the electroplating industry. The challenge is to use this momentum to create long-term, sustainable change. In 2014–15 we will implement a program to respond to the metal pollution resulting from poor storage and handling of chemicals and wastes by the electroplating industry.

What can you do?

  • Understand the difference between the stormwater and sewerage systems; check that your stormwater drains are clean and clear of litter, products and wastes.
  • Dispose of waste properly, which includes plant, equipment or vehicle wash waters not entering the stormwater (your local water authority can guide you on legal disposal to the sewerage system via a trade waste agreement).
  • Store and manage liquids and wastes properly – for example by using bunding.
  • Have a spill kit and spill response plan in place
  • Contact EPA, your industry association or council to discuss practices that will contribute to improved stormwater quality


There are many sources of guidance material to help you protect stormwater. For a practical starting point refer to:

Page last updated on 12 Mar 2015