Water concerns

The apparent lack of effort by authorities to find the source of a heavy, dark and putrid-smelling water flow that rushed down the dry Mt Barker Creek in February is disturbing.
Independent test results from samples of this water – commissioned by Mt Barker Springs cattle farmer Bill Chester – found over 14,000 units of e.coli in 100ml of water.
These results were massively above safe levels and should have rung alarm bells with authorities.
However, it appears there are no active efforts to locate the source of the contamination by either the State’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) or the Mt Barker Council.
The council – whose wastewater treatment plant is about a kilometre upstream from Mr Chester’s property – has denied it was responsible for the flow.
A significant flow of fresh water followed the putrid water later that same day but by the time the EPA conducted its own tests the e.coli levels had returned to normal.
The level of commitment by the EPA to discover the source of the flow is bizarre, as is the revelation that the authority doesn’t test for bacteria during its routine waterway examinations.
If the creek was polluted by a significant chemical spill or a private landowner was deliberately dumping their waste into the waterway, the EPA would be onto it in a flash. That is its job.
It is difficult to ascertain why a large flow of water polluted with faecal bacteria has been treated any differently.
The flow clearly started upstream from Mr Chester’s Springs Road property but it is unclear what attempts have been made to ascertain the point of origin.
The EPA has certainly not kept the community and landholders along the waterway informed about the progress of any investigation.
Federal Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie is asking for urgent e.coli tests in the creek – a waterway that flows past hundreds of commercial farmers and lifestyle property owners.
A flow of filthy water in a previously dry creek is a significant public health issue and it needs to be treated seriously, investigated promptly with the results released to the community.
To do anything less undermines public confidence.

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