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February 14 2014: Coalition Water Consultants Given Top Jobs
February 4 2013: State To Lay Claim To Melbourne's Stormwater
November 15 2012: Red Light Flashes On Melbourne Water's Debt Risk
November 7 2012: Desal Plant Delay Penalties Refused
November 2 2012: Water Bills Soar To Pay For Desal Plant
September 19 2012: Minister Accused Of Desal Spin On Water Bills
June 19 2012: Melbourne Water In Bill Bungle Backflip
June 17 2012: Pesticide Found Near Drinking Water Dam
June 16 2012: Desal Hiccup Hands Over $118m Lib Dividend
June 14 2012: Water Billing Scandal Grows
June 13 2012: Water Bill Bungle Hits Households
August 24 2011: Melbourne Water Apologises For Spying On Pipeline Protest Farmer
June 21 2011: Water Bills May Jump By A Third
January 24 2010: Waterbill Rise Quietly Pays For $70m Upgrade
July 24 2009: Gunnamatta Outfall Plan Dumped
Feb 17 2009: Dash To Save Melbourne's Drinking Water
June 5 2008: Mercury Poisoning Linked to Dolphin Deaths
What's in your water?
Incomplete list of treatment chemicals used in 2012/3 to make Melbourne Water safe
"*aluminium was a known neurotoxin, or nerve poison, and dissolved aluminium was the most toxic and 'bio-available' form of metal and therefore the most potentially damaging to humans"Source for table and quote p50-52 The Water You Drink How Safe Is It? John Archer 1996.
"World Health Organization recommends that at and above 26.7C (80F), drinking water supplies should not contain more than 0.6ppm fluoride. In Melbourne throughout the summer there are many days in which temperatures exceed 30C (95F) and reach over 40C and over. An example is 25th January - the temperature in Melbourne rose to 43.3C (110F) and the water consumption was a massive total of 2050 megalitres (455.5 million gallons) in the 24 hour period. The fluoride content was 0.8ppm.
On such a day Melbourne people were overdosed with fluoride and the ratepayers will be paying for more than 2 tonnes of fluoride plus 6 tonnes of lime to neutralize the acidity caused by the fluoride (to protect the water pipes from corrosion) and many tonnes of aluminium sulphate - all this added to what was once considered one of the world's purest water supplies.
It would be safe to say that no Australian industrial plant would ever be permitted to pollute the environment with 2 tonnes of fluoride in one day but now they can do it indirectly!"
p420 Fluoridation Poison on Tap By Glen S.R. Walker 1982.
For information on Victoria's Alcoa aluminium smelter at Portland please click here
Reservoir at John's Hill Reserve (Kallista). Headwaters of Menzies Creek. During February 2000, Melbourne Water detected the pesticides, Aldrin, Lindane and Heptachlor in the water at this reservoir. The Aldrin levels were above the guideline limit. All three pesticides are Organochlorines, carcinogens & suspected endocrine disruptors. Heptachlor is also a developmental and reproductive toxin.
You Don't Miss Your Water Until Your Well Runs Dry
Original leaflet (below) produced by Bay Rescue 1997.
It is true that the ocean, bay and streams, that give the region of greater Melbourne its unique character, have become so badly contaminated with the wastes of the city, that bodies such as the C.S.I.R.O., the Environment Protection Authority and the Health Department, have warned the public not to swim or eat shellfish or risk serious illness.
"Dieldrin and DDT were widespread in fillet and liver of fish throughout the bay . . . testing for organic toxicants detected Phthlate Esters, P.C.B's and Organochlorine pesticides in many instances." C.S.I.R.O. Port Phillip Bay Environment Study 1996.
It is also true that the region's once thriving fish resources are in serious decline. This is evident in substantially reduced recreational and commercial fish catches and backed up by recent government reports.
THE POLLUTION OF OUR WATERWAYS - WHO, WHERE, WHAT & WHY?
Message for punters at Gunnamatta Beach
The Melbourne Water Corporation through their major Sewage plants dump 1 billion litres a day of semi treated sewage and industrial waste into the Bay at Werribee and into the ocean at Gunnamatta Beach on the Mornington Peninsula. Barwon Water dump a further 60,000 litres per day near 13th Beach on the West Coast.
greater melbourne region showing major sewage outlets
The effluent from these outfalls include domestic sewage (your waste) and a cocktail of poisons, that industries pay Melbourne Water to dump into the sewers.
There is also substantial discharge of contaminants from major stormwater drains. These drains offer a tempting alternative for those wishing to illegally dump pollutants into the sea and avoid Melbourne Water licencing fees.
BUSINESS AS USUAL - WILL IT GIVE OUR WATERWAYS A CHANCE?
Melbourne Water are chained to their infrastructure - an outdated network of drains, pipes and treatment plants that channel the city's wastes into the sea.
Creative and realistic alternatives to bay and ocean dumping such as composting toilets and grey water systems exist. Melbourne Water does not have any incentive to promote alternatives or change their ways. Their current charter is to make financial profit through their existing infrastructure and these alternatives compete directly with their profit making ability.
"Port Phillip Bay is chronically contaminated with Petroleum and Chlorinated Hydrocarbons" C.S.I.R.O. Port Phillip Bay Environment Study 1996.
THE EXTENT OF POLLUTION. IS CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY SUSTAINABLE?
The extent to which the ocean, bay and streams are polluted has to be looked at from a variety of aspects.
*the degradation of reef, sea floor and fresh water habitats from pollution.
*the inability of estuaries to function as fish breeding nurseries because of sediment loads and pollution.
*the contamination of the fisheries themselves.
*deterioration of water quality to a degree where it is dangerous and unpleasant to use beaches for recreation purposes such as swimming, surfing and diving.
There is clear evidence of severe ecological decline of our waterways within only a few generations, species of marine flora and fauna have disappeared completely or have been substantially reduced in numbers.
Initiatives to preserve the integrity of waterways, are one step forward, two steps backwards while government policy is to profit from pollution.
contaminated dredge spoil dumped onto Mordialloc Beach
CAN WE CHANGE IT?
Melbourne Water and Government Departments will tell us, we live in a large city and pollution is a fact of life. It can seem extremely intimidating for individuals to question these powers. Carefully orchestrated campaigns are designed to hide the continued degradation of our waterways.
Huge amounts of money is spent by Melbourne Water on glossy P.R. exercises, with images of clear water, dolphins and platypus. In association with paternalistic arguements, these methods convince the public to believe all is OK. But nothing can excuse or legitimise the destruction.
We all know that dumping tonnes of poison into the sea is not good for us, our children and future generations. For hundreds of thousands of years the natural systems sustainaed and nurtured the people of this land.
There was a time not so long ago when the tide pushed emerald green water from the ocean up the estuaries of the bays, creeks and rivers. Bream, Mullet, Trevally, juvenile Snapper and Whiting swam amongst the reeds and seagrass, through the channels and holes, and across the sandbars. While further upstream Freshwater Crayfish, Tupong, Perch, Blackfish and Bass waited amongst the snags along the banks. Families picnicked in the shade of Paperbarks, Teatree, Manna Gums and Peppermints, as children fished and splashed in the clean creek water.
Although looking at our streams and beaches today, these images may seem worlds away, it is our dream that once again a green tide push up the esturaries and the fish and life return.
Melbourne Water Corporation
Toxic waves at Gunnamatta
*Melbourne Water dump 1 Billion Litres a day of semi-treated sewage and industrial waste into the ocean and bay.
*Companies pay Melbourne Water to discharge industrial waste into the sewage system.
*In the year 1996/7 Melbourne Water had an operating profit of $173 million for their sewage activities.
*Industrial (trade) waste makes-up 16% of the total sewage load but constitutes 50% of all toxicants and nutrients.
*Dangerous lethal poisons such as heavy metals (Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and Arsenic), Organic toxicants (Dioxin, PCB's, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Petroleum) and nutrients (Phosphates and Nitrogen) are contained in effluent discharged into the sea by Melbourne Water.
*Land-based disposal of sewage would be made more viable if dangerous poisons were extracted.
*Melbourne Water do not envisage the seperation of industrial waste from the domestic sewage stream.
The Victorian EPA
*The EPA are the body given the job of regulating and monitoring the discharge of pollutants into the environment.
*The Victorian EPA had an operation budget in (1996/7) of $27.5 million compared with their NSW counterparts of $74 million.
*In the year 1996/7 the NSW EPA laid 134 charges against polluters with fines totalling over $700,000. In the same year the Victorian EPA laid 21 charges with fines totalling $83,000.
*Since the Kennett Government came to power in 1992, the EPA have been forced into a co-operative relationship with polluters.
*The EPA do not have the resources to even check the data from companies licensed to pollute.
*From 1990/91 to 1996/7 pollution abatement notices to industry fell from 228 to 90. Prosecutions for polluters fell from 42 to 21 and prosecutions for waste fell from 61 to 11.
*In the same period prosecutions to the public for littering rose from 400 to 2683.
Pollution Make Up
What's in the lethal brew that is dumped into the ocean and bay?
Nutrients: (eg Phosphates and Nitrogen)
These pollutants, emanating from sewage trade waste (food processing), detergents and agriculture (fertilisers, herbicides) can lead to toxic algal blooms, pollution of the reef and sea floor habitat, the degradation of fisheries and degraded water quaility.
Heavy Metals: (eg Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic)
These are elementary toxins that emanate predominantly from industrial activity (car manufacturing, electroplating, plant manufacturers etc) and also road run-offs. Heavy metals settle and accumulate in sediment on the sea floor and estuaries and are absorbed in the marine eco-system, marine plants and animals (particularly shellfish). Some heavy metals are lethal if ingested by humans eating contaminated seafood. They bio-accumulate* in the flesh and vital organs of animal species.
Organic Toxicants: (eg Dioxin, Petroleum, PCB's, Dieldrin)
These contaminants are products of the modern industrial society, many like Dioxins and Dieldrin and DDT are designed specifically to destroy life. They cause genetic damage in plant and animal life forms and remain for long periods in the environment and bio-accumulate* in living beings.
*Bio-accumulate - When toxicants travel up the food chain (ie big fish eat little fish) and their toxicity increases.
Bacterial Contaminants: (eg E.Coli and Streptococci)
These are micro-organisms that emanate from the gut of mammals and can be transferred into our waterways through sewers. Bacteria can cause serious eye, ear, throat and intestinal infections. Certain strains of streptococci and ecoli can cause lethal diseases such as Meningitis.
C.S.I.R.O. Port Phillip Bay Environment Study 1996.
In 1997, with much fanfare and an associated public relations campaign, Melbourne Water released their '1992-1996 Port Phillip Bay Environment Study'. Images of clear bay waters, colourful fish and dolphins flashed across TV screens, full page newspaper advertisements and even the sides of city trams.
The study was conducted by the CSIRO at a cost of $12 million. The findings which according to the Minister for Conservation, Mrs Marie Tehan, gave the bay an 'environmental clean bill of health' were released to the public in the form of a 32 page "glossy" which lifted selected data interpretation from the studies thousands of pages of research data.
What follows are some selected quotes from the Bay Study's Technical Reports that were not released to the public:
*"Dieldrin and DDT wide spread in the liver and fillet of fish thoughout the bay."
*"Tests for organic toxicants detected Phthalate Esters, PCB's, Phenol's, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons in Flathead and Mullet."
*"Petroleum Hydrocarbons exceeded the threshold for taste-tainting in fish flesh at three separate sites".
*"Port Phillip Bay is chronically contaminated with Petroleum and Chlorinated Hydrocarbons".
*"It is estimated (heavy metals in sewage effluent from Werribee) in general represent an increase of between 20% and 50% compared to 1980-81 data."
*Dieldrin in fish liver was twice the health limit (in the Geelong Arm)."
*Mussels from sites such as the Rippleside area still exceed the health limits (for lead contamination)."
*"Lesions, local haemorrhages and cutaneous erytherma were found on Spikey Globefish after a major fish kill."
*"Sand Flathead had severe visceral haemosiderosis. The condition was accompanied by high tissue cadmium and lead."
*"Industries holding current licences are self regulating, with reports of discharged concentrations being supplied to the EPA who do not have the resources to undertake checks of the data."
pollution casualties: dead fish and eels in the estuary of Mordialloc Creek
Gunnamatta Beach Sewage Outfall
Sewage Access Road pushed through Aboriginal Midden at Gunnamatta Beach
Table 3.4.1 Trigger vales for toxicants at alternative levels of protection. Values in pink text are the trigger values applying to typically slightly-moderately disturbed systems; see table 3.4.2 and Section 22.214.171.124 for guidance on applying these levels to different ecosystem conditions.
Trigger Values for marine water (ugL-1)
Metals and Metalloids
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Chlorobenzenes and Chloronaphthalenes
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) & Dioxins
Phenols and Xylenols
Organic Sulphur Compounds
Miscellaneous Industrial Chemicals
Carbamate & Other Pesticides
Herbicides & Fungicides
Phenoxyacetic acid herbicides
Generic Groups of Chemicals
Oil Spill Dispersants
* = High reliability figure for esfenvalerate derived from mesocosm NOEC data (no alternative protection levels available)
a = Figure may not protect key test species from acute toxicity (and chronic) - check Section 8.3.7 for spread of data and its significance. 'a' indicates that trigger value > acute toxicity figure; note that trigger value should be <1/3 of acute figure (Section 126.96.36.199).
b = Chemicals for which possible bioaccumulation and secondary poisoning effects should be considered (see Sections 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206).
c = Figure may not prtect key test species from chronic toxicity (this refers to experimental chronic figures or geometric mean for species) - check Section 8.3.7 for spread of data and its significance. Where grey shading and 'c' coincide, refer to text in Section 8.3.7.
d = Ammonia as TOTAL ammonia as [NH3-N] at pH 8. For changes in trigger value with pH refer to Section 220.127.116.11.
e = Chlorine as total chlorine, as [Cl]; see Section 18.104.22.168
f = Cyanide as un-ionised HCN, measured as [S]; section 22.214.171.124.
g = Sulfide as un-ionised H2S, measured as [S]; see section 126.96.36.199.
h = Chemicals for which algorithms have been provided in table 3.4.3 to account for the effects of hardness. The vales have been calculated using a hardness of 30 mg/L CaCO3. These should be adjusted to the site-specific hardness (see Section 3.4.3).
j = Figures protect against toxicity and do not relate to eutrophication issues. Refer to section 3.3 if eutrophication is the issue of concern.
ID = Insufficient data to derive a reliable trigger value. Users advised to check if a low reliability value or an ECL is given in section 8.3.7.
t = Tainting or flavour impairment of fish flesh may possibly occur at concentrations below the trigger value. See sections 188.8.131.52/3 and 8.3.7.