Heathcote waste lagoon spilled into forest

COLIBAN Water has been fined almost $16,000 after its wastewater lagoons in Heathcote and Cohuna were found to be overflowing into a nearby forest and property.

Environment Protection Authority officers visited the Heathcote wastewater treatment plant on July 12 where they found the winter storage lagoon was leaking water into a neighbouring forest.

Both the winter storage lagoon and wastewater lagoon were at full capacity.

EPA north west manager Scott Pigdon said the same problem had been seen in recent years, and an official warning had earlier been issued.

“The issue… was both foreseeable and preventable,” he said.

“While EPA testing has confirmed the impacts were not severe, the fact is, it could have been prevented through infrastructure upgrades.”

The EPA also visisted the Cohuna water reclamation plant on July 12 after noticing wastewater was being lost from one of the site’s storage lagoons.

The water seepage caused flooding over a large section of a neighbouring farm.

Coliban installed a drain in an attempt to capture the water.

Dr Pigdon said it was another breach of Coliban Water’s EPA licence.

“It is stipulated in the EPA licence that waste from the premises must not be discharged to the environment except in accordance with this licence,” he said.

“The risk to human health is low as the Cohuna WRP is quite isolated.”

Both offences attracted a $7929 fine.

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