Contaminated water flows again

Some landowners along the Campaspe River have no alternative but to draw contaminated water for stock and domestic purposes.

Contaminated water is once again flowing down the Campaspe River as Coliban Water admits to another unauthorised release from the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.
It is the 11th time since 2007 that undiluted Class B or Class C water has been released from the plant to the river.
The water authority last week advised the Environment Protection Authority Victoria that it needed to undertake daily releases to ensure lagoon embankments at the plant were protected.
David Sheehan, executive general manager of water quality, told the Midland Express that Coliban had begun releasing Class B recycled water on Friday.
“Up to two megalitres of water a day will be released to the Campaspe River,” Mr Sheehan said.
“Under our EPA licence we are permitted to discharge treated water to the river during periods of natural river flows, allowing for dilution of treated water with the river water.
“However, with the dry autumn conditions there has been minimal flow in the river, so we have been unable to release to the river in a manner that is consistent with our licence conditions.”
Mr Sheehan also admitted Coliban Water anticipated that in coming weeks a release of Class C recycled water, which is unsafe for stock and domestic use, would be required.
“This will impact landowners downstream of the plant who draw water for stock and domestic purposes, as a minimum Class B standard is required for these purposes,” he said.
“The North Central Catchment Management Authority and Goulburn-Murray Water have been notified, and we are working with Goulburn-Murray Water to ensure notification to downstream users along the Campaspe River.”
The news has drawn further anger from landowners along the river, following the discovery earlier this year that unauthorised releases had occurred over many years without their knowledge.
Landowner Huntly Barton said he had no alternative but to draw water from the river.
“I’m totally reliant on the river for stock and domestic purposes and if I’d known what I know now I would never have invested $20,000 on a new pump system on the river, I’d have sunk a bore,” he said.
“I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful natural hole that we’ve pumped out of for over 50 years but I never knew it had been compromised by effluent.”
Mr Barton said the water authority had publicly stated there would be no release of diminished water into the river in 2019.
“If Coliban Water was a mining company they’d be screwed into the ground with no remorse by the public and any government,” he said.
“They are a public authority, they’re servants to the people, and we should all be working together to create a system that works for the public.”
Mr Barton also had a message for the state government.
“No population growth or industry growth should occur until they are able to cope with the effluent,” he said.