LANDHOLDERS along the Campaspe River say they are frustrated by the continued release of industrial trade waste water from the Kyneton Water reclamation plant.
Coliban Water has confirmed the release of this low quality water - known as Class C water - into the Campaspe River will continue until further notice, as it continues to struggle with storage capacity at its Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.
Landowner Sallyanne Craig said the release of treated industrial waste water was a breach of community trust.
Ms Craig said she only received a contamination warning letter six days after the release of the Class C water began.
Coliban Water did not confirm the date it sent a letter warning residents of the release of Class C treated water when asked by the Bendigo Advertiser.
The EPA warned residents on June 6 not to drink the Campaspe River's water, or use it for stock and domestic purposes downstream of the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.
"If we were dependent on river water for those essential things, washing and livestock and so forth we would have been seriously compromised in terms of health," Ms Craig said.
Ms Craig said residents were frustrated, distressed, and worried, given the EPA warnings against using the water.
Coliban Water acting managing director Neville Pearce said the Campaspe River flows now met the dilution level required by Coliban's licence, because of higher flows in the waterway.
Mr Pearce said Coliban Water would continue to monitor water quality in the Campaspe River. He said there were several sources of contamination to the river, including urban storm water.
Coliban Water began the release of Class C water on June 6. The release does not comply with the requirements of Coliban Water's licence. It has not been approved by the Environment Protection Authority.
In April Coliban Water told the Bendigo Advertiser it had no plans to release treated Class C water straight into the Campaspe River in 2019.
It previously released water that did not meet the quality requirements of its licence in 2016 and 2018. It has also released water into Snipes Creek - not covered by its licence - six times.
Farmer Huntly Barton said he had relied on water from the Campaspe River for over 50 years.
Mr Barton said the contaminated water supply had forced him to sink a bore to supply his stock. He hasn't got the bill yet, but he's expecting it will cost about $7000, plus the cost of a pump.
He said the water was too "minerally" to use in the house, so he also had needed to buy water tanks for domestic supply, costing several thousand.
Mr Barton said he was nearly at the point where he would have to buy water to be trucked in because he couldn't use the river water any more.
He said the contamination has cost him money and time.
"It's meant I've had to bloody well fork out, I think I'm probably up to 15 grand, and all my weekends are [spent] trying to solve the problem to reduce the costs," he said.
"I can't use it for anything. I've closed off the paddock where the stock went. I can't use it full stop."
Minister for Water Lisa Neville and Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio were approached for comment for this piece.
In response a government spokesperson said Coliban Water was working with the EPA on a sustainable solution the the problem.
"Releasing Class C water is not a decision that is made lightly - it is a necessary action to protect both the surrounding environment and the treatment plant itself," the spokesperson said.
"EPA is investigating how the situation occurred and can require Coliban complete upgrade works to their facilities to address risks and ensure they comply with their licence."
"A number of projects are already underway to significantly reduce the need for discharges and help to offset the environmental impact if releases are deemed to be necessary."
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