If even a low impact industry like waste water treatment make simple mistakes costing locals and the environment; just imagine the mistakes a complex heavy industry like mining can make, with impacts that can be massive and permanent. Locals and the environment take the hit of course… rarely the miners.
We don’t have to imagine of course, this happens regularly all over the world including in Australia. So let’s not allow on mining in the Macedon Ranges.
Below are some details of the Campaspe River and Snipes Creek incident…
Coliban Water breached its Environment Protection Authority (EPA) licence in June 2019, when it discharged treated wastewater from a release point on Wards Lane, which flows into the Campaspe River and Snipes Creek, a tributary of the river.
At the time, dozens of landowners were impacted and warned by the EPA not to use the creek water for stock, domestic or food crops.
Residents also reported seeing “filthy scum” on the water surface.
In December, Coliban Water pleaded guilty to charges of causing or permitting an environmental hazard and pollution of waters.
The Kyneton Magistrates Court yesterday ruled Coliban Water should not have allowed the discharge.
The water authority was fined $150,000, which will go towards a rehabilitation project to restore the ecosystem of Snipes Creek.
“We recognise what happened in 2019 was unacceptable, and we are sorry for the impacts we had on downstream landowners, and the environment,” Coliban Water managing director Damian Wells said.
‘We’re all really angry’
Kyneton farmer Huntly Barton, who owns land along the creek, said the issue has cost him thousands of dollars.
“We relied on the river for domestic purposes, we used to shower in it,” he said.
“But it meant I could no longer rely on the river at all, I had to put down a bore.
“That water wasn’t good enough to go into the house, so we had to put in fresh water tanks.”
Mr Barton added the contaminated water caused stock losses in 2019 and farmers in the area were left frustrated.
“We’re all really angry,” he said.
“When we sell stock, we have to sign a statutory declaration [stating] what we’ve been allowing and putting into our stock, yet we’ve been feeding them water that we have no idea what’s in the bloody stuff.”