EPA Victoria has fined East Gippsland Water more than $9000 over a discharge of more than 30 million litres of wastewater into Macleod Morass in April 2022.

The wastewater was discharged from the Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant following wet weather.

EPA Gippsland Regional Manager Jessica Bandiera said while Macleod Morass is a wetland that naturally filters water and would likely have absorbed any bacterial pollution before it could reach the Gippsland Lakes, the wastewater did not meet the conditions of the facility’s EPA licence.

“An EPA licence to operate is not just open slather, it is a tool we use to apply stringent, enforceable environmental conditions to the way the business or facility is run,” Ms Bandiera said.

“The licence is designed to recognise that there can be extreme weather but does not make it an excuse to pollute.”

EPA authorised officers attended the water treatment plant on April 4 2022.

The officers conducted on-site testing and took samples for laboratory analysis, which showed the water leaving the treatment plant did not meet the required wastewater standard for the discharge to occur.

A spokesperson for East Gippsland Water told the Gippsland Times said they were looking at the matter in earnest.

“This was in relation to an uncontrolled discharge of wastewater following a storm event in April, with Bairnsdale receiving over 117mm of rain for the month,” the spokesperson said.

“We are taking this matter very seriously.”

The EPA said the fine of $9087 was for the unlawful deposit of wastewater into Macleod Morass under Section 115(4) of the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Under the Environment Protection Act (2017) and the Infringements Act (2006), the operator has the right to have the infringement notice reviewed or be considered by a court.