Landowners along the Campaspe River are fighting a plan by Coliban Water to amend its EPA licence to allow it to continue releasing wastewater from the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant to the river, but at a reduced dilution ratio.
Coliban Water project director Tony Kelly confirmed that Coliban Water had formally requested the EPA approve an environmental improvements offsets program, designed to reduce river pollution upstream of the treatment plant, in exchange for changing the dilution required (from 5:1 to 2:1) for discharges to the river.
“Offsets are a relatively new concept and Coliban Water’s application is the second of its type in Victoria,” Mr Kelly said.
“The EPA subsequently endorsed the program in principle.
“The program would mean Coliban Water could discharge treated water at a lower dilution rate, but without any overall increase in nutrient or pathogen load on the river.
“Coliban Water has taken a conservative approach to these offsets, committing to reduce the upstream nutrients by more than the additional nutrient loads that would occur from the change in dilution ratio.”
Mr Kelly said Coliban Water proposed the program as an interim measure for a period of five years until the full implementation of long-term improvements at the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.
He has since advised that Coliban Water has withdrawn the application at this stage (see Opinions, Midland Express, September 10), however, given the water authority’s track history – having been found to have made 12 illegal releases from the plant to the river since 2007 – the landowners want a categorical assurance it will not proceed.
“I just can’t believe in 2019 Australia, that pollution such as this is still allowed to be dumped down our already stressed waterways. It can only be described as government sanctioned industrial dumping,” local resident Andrew Craig said.
The EPA’s executive director of regulatory standards Tim Eaton confirmed the EPA was discussing a proposed offset plan from Coliban.
“EPA has not yet formally accepted an application for licence amendment but when received it will be assessed to determine if it meets all the necessary requirements to protect the environment and human health,” Mr Eaton said.