Stop The Contamination Of Our Water
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The Contamination of the Campaspe
The Kyneton Water Treatment Plant may have been adequate when it was first built in the 1940's. It may even have been visionary but now it is simply embarrassing. The human sewage system part of it was upgraded in 2003 and is processed through a series of up-to-date technologies to a Class B standard. By a horrifying, almost unbelievable way of contrast, the massive megalitre volumes of trade waste is simply pumped into the lagoons and abandoned. Stand on the banks of these and you can see and smell the failure and the potential danger - the waters thick and foul with the decomposing body fluids and excrement of 40.000 penned and slaughtered animals every week. Oh, and all the contents of the region's septic tanks and grease traps are in there too! In summer these contaminated waters are pumped onto the land next to the plant, in the winter they’re sent down our beautiful river - sometimes illegally - to wreak their human and environmental havoc...
Both acute and chronic poisoning of the Campaspe has been happening since 2007. That year, Coliban Water had its licence to dump into Snipes Creek stripped from it, as the waterway way was biologically-dead it was so polluted. Since then, exponentially-increasing volumes of waste have been pumped into steadily declining amounts of water in the once Campaspe, which was once home to platypus and a safe place for children to swim.
This winter, for 39 days straight ~ from Sunday June 6 to Sunday July 14 ~ huge volumes of contaminating Class C trade waste was sent illegally through the iconic tourist attraction of Turpins Falls and straight into the City of Greater Bendigo's Lake Eppalock thanks to plant operators Lend Lease Group and plant owners Coliban Water who say they are no longer dumping illegally as they are now meeting their licence dilution requirements. But they are still dumping! Two megalitres of contaminated Class C trade waste water every day goes into an already degraded and climate-stressed river. The video is 27 July at Edgecombe Streamside Reserve.
You should know that this 'legality' is being met on a fraudulent technicality - the meter used to assess the flow of the river, and thus what level of waste is safe, is 50 km downstream from where the contaminants are dumped in. For this acute river poisoning event, the EPA are saying it may take two years for any legal sanctions to be applied.
In the absence of any water quality data being supplied to us by either Coliban Water or the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, local resident Sallyanne Craig outlaid $400 for our own independent tests to be done at the publicly-accessible Edgecombe Streamside Reserve on July 17 and the results came back on Thursday - worrying levels of E. coli and seriously worrying levels of phosphates! Come the warmer weather, these high phosphorus levels bio-accumulate in river silt and clay and cause blue-green algae blooms which infect drinking water with neurotoxins. These have been linked with some neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and cannot be easily removed from the water once they enter it. As in, you cannot boil them out of your drinking water!
The community should also know the details of the current Coliban Water 'solutions' (endorsed by Mary-Anne Thomas). One is to pipe the contaminated Class C water a couple of kilometres out of town for dumping on a paddock. The swing span of the 300m pivot irrigator waiting there requires the destruction of eleven remnant wildlife habitat trees. The last off the few. This 'solution' will expose groundwater and streams (and thereby the river again) to contamination via saturation, run off and spray drift. Livestock and humans will still remain vulnerable to pathogens like Leptospirosis and e Coli in the untreated waters.
The application for the habitat tree destruction is currently online at Macedon Ranges Shire Council (PLN/2019/161) and is in flagrant opposition to the Council's new and important biodiversity policy.
The second 'solution' is to simply change their licence. Now, this is a cunning sleight of hand! In return for an untested, inadequate upstream 'off-set', rather than 20% of river water being contaminated water, Coliban is seeking to make it 50%. That is, they want to be allowed to create a situation whereby HALF OF ALL the water flowing in the river downstream of the lagoons is contaminated trade waste water. Well, you can see their reasoning. It's a cheap solution. It's an easy lie. They won't be breaking the letter of the 'law' anymore only the spirit of laws meant to protect us...
Would be that all those with a responsibility to act in protection of the community and of waterways commit to an urgent upgrade of the outdated and failing Kyneton plant to produce ONLY Class B water with NO weakening of dilution requirements. In a time of climate emergency and resource scarcity the current situation of corporate bodies using the community's clean rivers to dispose of their dirty and dangerous trade waste is both untenable and negligent. The ecologies of our river systems were never evolved to cope with the massive nutrient and pathogen loads that come with so much noxious waste. And neither were the people or the animals who depend on them.
Lisa Neville MP Lily D'Ambrosio MP Mary-Anne Thomas MPMacedon Ranges Shire Council Dan AndrewsJenny Mikakos MPMartin Pakula Lisa Chesters MP
The Bendigo Advertiser Midland Express Guardian Australia ABC RN
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