Water Companies aand EPA in Wonderland post 4&5th Febuary
On the night of Friday the 4th of February and the morning of the 5th, black water from Melbourne Water's Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP) flooded Thompson’s Road Bangholme between the East link overpass and Frankston Freeway. It inundated paddocks to the south. The area drains to Kananook Creek and from there to Seaford and Frankston Beaches.
On the afternoon of the 5th a filthy plume extending from Oliver’s Hill to Frankston Beach. People were seen swimming and paddling, young sailors were launching dinghies at the Frankston Yacht Club and several jet skis were observed leaving the creek .
On the 10th of February, the EPA advised Mayday-SENews that Melbourne Water had not notified of the ETP spill in circumstances where Melbourne Water say it’s the EPA’s responsibility to issue warnings.
To the north, there was a major discharge from a sewer in the vicinity of Edithvale and Wells Roads that last week was still being dealt with.
Another sewer discharge occurred in the vicinity of Homestead/Greenpatch Drives Bangholme. It was reported to the EPA on Sunday the 6th. Melbourne Water contractors are pumping out dams and returning the effluent to the Eastern Treatment Plant. The system also failed at Patterson Lakes.
Reports in the Mordiallioc leader on the 14th and 21st of Febuary indicate that Kingston has been hit with $100k plus costs to clean beaches. Similar costs were incurred by Frankston Council post the 2005 event which Melbourne Water also spun to decision makers as being "unique". (link Mordy Leader 14th) (link Mordy Leader 21st)
Beach Monitoring Results
In the Frankston Weekly of the 15th of February, Frankston Council’s CEO, Melbourne Water and the EPA hosed down community concerns and intimated that on the basis of water testing conducted on Monday the 7th of February that the beach was safe on the 5th and 6th in circumstances where the Victorian Government advises that in a “1 in 500 year” rain event, one of Australia’s largest water treatment plants went under and discharged effluent to a local waterway. Shandied Effluent may also have been discharged to Seaford beach via the Riviera drain. The nearest testing point is about 1600 meters to the north.
Examination of EPA beach water tests note that a remarkably low enterococci count was recorded at Frankston Beach on the 7th. Less than 20 organisms per 100 millilitres is an excellent result in any conditions for samples taken at the mouth of a perennial urban stream that’s one of three outlets for the whole Dandenong Valley/Carrum Swamp which is home to over a million people.
Kananook Creek is a major regional waterway. The samples were taken on the 7th of February approximately 250 meters south of the Creek (Frankston Coast Guard) and 400m to the north (Lifesaving Club). They recorded the lowest enterococci counts of all test stations between Frankston and Altona two days after the claimed “1 in 500” flood event.
Predictably, test results from samples taken the same day at Carrum, Aspendale, Mordialloc and Mentone and indeed all test sites yielded results above the warning threshold. (download results). Mayday doesn’t believe in fairies or conspiracies but is of the opinion that in light of the above, the Frankston sites should have been retested.
Per previous incidents, state bureaucrats are out and about advising Councils that on the basis of a “whole of government approach” that they should be “cut a bit of slack” and “are doing their best in 1:500” circumstances.” This yarn being pedalled to a local politicians and Council staff is consistent with the “lines” sprouted by Melbourne Water post the 2005 event and after 12 years of environmental journalism it’s become a familiar mantra to Mayday-SENews.
Bangholme residents are being advised that it’s the smell of rotting grass that’s offending them, not sewerage and that contamination of their land can be compared with the beaches. The EPA ‘s story is that it was a 1:500 year event and that there was so much water that the effluent was “shandied” to a point where it was safe. (download Dandy Leader story) This is nonsense and there’s been no specific information disseminated regarding the ETP or other spills that occurred across the Dandenong Creek and Carrum Swamp Catchments.
An analysis of local rainfall figures proves the “1 in 500” assertion to be only partially true (a couple of stations recorded record rain) but over the Dandenong catchment as a whole, rainfall was no where near the December 1934 event when 300mm+ fell in two days across the top end of the catchment & 100mm plus across the balance. This event coincided with strong on shore winds, a king tide and a storm surge. There was 7 metres of water at Chelsea that extended to Mordialloc and most of Seaford and Carrum Downs went under. It happened again in 1952.
Melbourne Water is also singing it’s old song about sewerage infrastructure inundated by storm water entering the system via illegal connections. The debate over mandated plumbing inspections dates back to the mid 1990’s. The principle impediment to “plumbing roadworthy inspections” is the same authority that’s sooking about its incapacity to deal with inundation now.
Long Term Risk
Sewerage & trash aside, with less than record rainfall across the catchment, without big tides, storm surge and strong offshore winds, Dandenong Creek again got to within less than a metre of over capping the levy banks at Pillars Crossing which if it did, depending on severity, Seaford would go under as would Bonbeach & Chelsea. To say that this can’t happen as did a Kingston General Manager late last year is as nonsensical as the repeated media citations of a “1 in 500 year event” and what that implies to both decision makers and the community.
According to the observations and opinions of many people, those areas of Frankston, Kingston and Dandenong that occupy the old Carrum Carrum Swamp are at risk and that it is difficult to find evidence that this risk has been fully assessed in regard to the massive urban and transport infrastructure development that has occurred in the catchment in the past 10 years.
Eastern Treatment Plant 5th February (Alan Hood)
Dandenong Creek at Pillars Crossing 5th February (Alan Hood)
1952 floods showing 1934 high water mark
Flash flooding @ Waterways 5th Febuary (Parki)
Flash Flooding Seaford 5th Feb (Hiliary P)