Reclaiming the Campaspe River

Campaspe River landowners are taking the health of the river into their own hands by commissioning independent scientific monitoring of the waterway.
The residents fear waste from the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant will continue to pollute the river, as Coliban Water faces 11 criminal charges relating to the illegal discharge of thousands of litres of wastewater to the river last year.
The water corporation is licensed by the Environment Protection Authority to release treated wastewater from the plant to the river when it is flowing, at a dilution ratio of 20 per cent waste to 80 per cent fresh water.
But since 2007, 12 non-compliant releases have compromised the river.
Campaigner Sallyanne Craig said the community felt that the only way to confidently know what was going into the river was to fund an independent scientific monitoring project.
“The Campaspe has been chronically poisoned by Coliban Water since 2008, after the EPA stripped the water corporation of their licence to dump into (tributary) Snipes Creek,” Ms Craig said.
“Every time the river has flowed, the failing KWRP has tipped massive amounts of barely treated industrial wastewater into it.
“Operating under their outdated 1970s EPA ‘licence to pollute’, they have legally loaded up the river with contaminating nutrients and pathogens causing significant human and ecological impacts downstream.”
The residents have commissioned scientists from Bio2Lab, an Australian environmental technology company that specialises in real-time pollution monitoring, to install three monitoring stations along the waterway, while an online dashboard will store and display the results of testing.
Environmental science students from Sacred Heart College Kyneton are also getting involved in the project with the realtime online dashboard linking in with their own field work and science curriculum.
Teacher Anthony McMeeken said the students wanted to keep an eye on the river’s health.
“We know it’s in poor condition and we’re concerned that what’s happening at the wastewater reclamation plant is creating bigger issues for the environment and the community,” he said.
“We’re very concerned about the future of the river as there seems to be no plan to halt the dumping of the wastewater.”
The residents are seeking crowdfunding support to help fund the project.
Anyone able to contribute can do so at: chuffed.org/project/this-river-is-not-a-tip-saving-the-campaspe-for-its-communities.
Coliban Water has begun upgrade works at the plant aimed at preventing further unlicensed releases.
Coliban’s managing director Damian Wells told the Midland Express last December that once the ‘Kyneton Solutions Project’ works were completed “our absolute commitment is to operate above compliance”.

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