Runoff risk warning

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By Kyra Gillespie

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has warned residents to be vigilant about block drains and waterways this winter.

EPA Southern Metro Manager Marleen Mathias said with winter weather battering the state, there was a high risk of increased sediment runoff across new residential and commercial subdivisions.

Clearing and levelling land strips it of groundcover and plants that naturally hold the soil together so it’s easy for the top layers of soil to be washed away in a downpour, she said.

“It may just look like mud, but high levels of sediment in waterways can kill aquatic plants, interfere with fish and frog breeding, and, in extreme cases, smother the underwater habitat, suffocating fish and many smaller waterborne-species,” Ms Mathias said.

“The sediment also catches in low-lying areas, clogging drains, and probably getting your new neighbours offside.”

Ms Mathias said, as with most winter ailments, prevention was better than cure.

“All property developers need to be mindful of their potential impact on the environment,” she said.

“New residential and commercial developments are occurring all over the state so if everyone has the attitude of ‘it’s only a little bit’, it will really take its toll.

“Careful design and efficient construction sequences can minimise site disturbance as well as save money. Clear only the necessary areas, preserve as much grass as possible and schedule clearing to occur as close to the beginning of construction as possible.

“I’d encourage all property and building companies to brush up on their knowledge and be aware of best practice methods at epa.vic.gov.au.

“I’d also encourage new land owners to be vigilant and active in the development of their block.

“If you’re concerned, ask about what sediment control measures, such as filters, fencing and grass seeding, are in place. After all, your long-term enjoyment of the amenity of your new suburb depends on a healthy environment.”

EPA has the power to issue fines and require clean up works.

EPA’s Preventing erosion and sediment impacts: A guide for business is available online under the standards, compliance and planning section of epa.vic.gov.au/business-and-industry

Report pollution to the 24-hour EPA pollution hotline 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

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