Wyndham City Council’s Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) is working to ensure new residential developments are complying with environmental regulations.
The OPLE is inspecting new building developments alongside council officers to assess sediment and erosion controls, especially where subdivisions are close to creeks and rivers.
“When land is cleared for development the top layers of soil can more easily be washed away in the rain because there is no plants and groundcover holding it together” the OPLE said.
“It may just look like mud, but high levels of sediment in waterways can kill aquatic plants, interfere with fish and frog breeding, and, in extreme cases, smother the underwater habitat, suffocating fish and many smaller waterborne-species.”
The OPLE has been working on the project since March 2018, conducting more than 30 inspections across 20 construction sites to assess their environmental risks.
“Building companies need to ensure they are actively preventing environmental harm from occurring at their sites, including protecting stormwater inlets and ensuring discharged water doesn’t pollute waterways.”
"We are also checking that chemicals are stored appropriately, spill clean-up kits are available on site, there are dust contingency plans, and that the site is free of litter.”
The OPLE is providing advice and guidance materials in the first instance, and informing duty holders that continued non-compliance may attract a notice or sanction under the Environment Protection Act 1970, or enforcement action by council under the local planning scheme.
A joint investigation with council resulted in EPA fining a Campbellfield construction company $7929 in August 2018 for illegally discharging sediment-laden water from a Tarneit site into the Growling Grass Frog conservation zone that flows into Davis Creek.
Wyndham City Council’s Environment and Water Manager has noted that improving the health and amenity of waterways and the coastal environment is a key objective for both Council and the EPA.
“EPA and Wyndham City Council have been working together to reduce incidents of sediment into waterways from development sites. While education and information are the priority, EPA or Council will take enforcement action where necessary. The OPLE program continues to improve responses to local pollution and waste issues in the local community.”
Further information about controlling erosion and sediment pollution can be found here. EPA is also developing new guidance materials for industry, which are due to be released in mid-2019.