Dairy discharge leads to fine

The operator of a farm at Poowong North faces a $1,817 fine from EPA Victoria for discharging more than 1,000 litres of dairy effluent-laden wastewater into Little Pheasant Creek.

EPA Regional Manager for Gippsland Jessica Bandiera says officers investigated after a report from a member of the public who had seen the contaminated water entering the creek.

“Our officers found evidence of a lack of routine maintenance on the property that not only contaminated the creek, but affected fish and other aquatic life, while also posing a potential hazard to people and livestock downstream,” Ms Bandiera said.

“Allowing this kind of spill is a breach of the Environment Protection Act (2017) and it does no favours at all for neighbouring landholders along the same waterway,” she said.

EPA officers found the property had a two-pond dairy effluent system needing urgent maintenance to stop overflowing effluent that was entering the creek.

One pond was full and almost entirely overgrown with vegetation, the second pond was full of a liquid matching the liquid found in the creek. EPA issued an Improvement Notice requiring the landholder to desludge the ponds and remove vegetation.

The officers inspected the property to check compliance with the notice and found the work was unfinished and effluent was still overflowing from the second pond. EPA issued a Prohibition Notice prohibiting the discharge of effluent into Pheasant Creek and requiring the landholder to increase the space available in the second pond to prevent further discharges into the creek.

Another inspection revealed the landholder had still not fully complied, and the officers issued an infringement notice for a breach of Section 115(4) of the Environment Protection Act 2017, depositing industrial waste greater than 1000L into the creek.

“This is another case where a landholder could have avoided a fine, first by conducting proper maintenance on their dairy farm, and then by complying with official notices from EPA,” Ms Bandiera said.

“Along with paying the fine, they must still comply with the notices to prevent any further contamination of the creek,” she said.

Under the Environment Protection Act (2017) and the Infringements Act 2006, the operator has the right to have the infringement notice reviewed or be considered by a court.