Dairy business is again fined over effluent

MAFFRA dairy business M&K Gault has again been fined by the Environment Protection Authority for failing to manage its effluent processes, allowing a discharge into a creek and endangering the environment.

An EPA inspection in May found effluent discharging from the property on the Maffra-Sale Rd, Maffra and spilling into a nearby creek, which flows into the Macalister River.

In September last year EPA officers attended the same property and observed effluent being allowed to run in to the creek.

EPA Gippsland manager Stephen Lansdell said when M&K was fined for the discharge in September last year, he had “hoped they would take it as an opportunity to improve their processes for managing effluent”.

“Apparently, another reminder is required, and they will be fined a further $7929,” Mr Lansdell said.

EPA officers observed dairy effluent originating from the dairy yards flowing through a trafficable solids trap, into the diary effluent pond, through a hole in the dairy effluent pond wall and running into a channel along a fence line before discharging into the creek.

Samples from the creek obtained by EPA officers confirmed there were elevated levels of pollutants, particularly ammonia levels, as well as increased E.coli levels.

The EPA said these levels showed that an environmental hazard had occurred, because ammonia was “harmful and toxic to aquatic life”.

An M&K Gault director is also a director of fellow dairy company Gray Wigg Gault, which received a fine for failing to manage its dairy effluent in August last year.

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

“EPA has been actively engaging with the dairy industry about the importance of proper management of effluent ponds and providing information via our website,” Mr Lansdell said.

“We also encourage dairy processors to support their milk suppliers in managing effluent.

“Dairy farmers can prevent effluent ponds from overflowing by de-sludging, removing vegetation and irrigating the water component to pasture when weather conditions are appropriate.

“Properly utilised, dairy effluent is a valuable fertiliser that can increase pasture production.

“Good dairy effluent management is a classic case of good for business, good for the environment.”

Agriculture Victoria and dairy regional development programs such as Gipps Dairy have a range of tools which can assist farmers.

Guidelines on effective effluent management on dairy farms can be found by visiting www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/compliance-and-enforcement/acpand-reports/acp-2014-15/strategic-compliance-projects/regional-strategic-projects/dairy-effluent-management.