Stormwater Pollution Education Program

What is stormwater?

When rain falls on homes, gardens or businesses, it is collected in a downpipe, gutter or the nearest stormwater drain. This stormwater system is designed to prevent flooding and the water collected in these drains reaches local creeks, rivers and wetlands and eventually Port Phillip Bay or Western Port Bay. The stormwater system, which is untreated, is separate from the sewage system, which carries water from our sinks, toilets and bathrooms to a sewage plant for treatment.

How does stormwater impact the health of our waterways, wildlife and residents?

As stormwater travels from where it falls as rain, it can pick up and carry many pollutants such as sediment, oil, pesticides and other chemicals. As stormwater carrying these chemicals and other waste materials enters our waterways, it can cause serious damage to the environment – affecting water quality, the health of local wildlife, and impacting residents’ enjoyment of the area. Unfortunately, stormwater cannot be easily treated to remove waste including toxic or hazardous substances before it reaches our waterways, so it is up to all of us to prevent the pollution of stormwater.

What are the major stormwater pollutants?

Stormwater pollution includes many human-produced materials, such as grease, oil, paint, pesticides, concrete and detergents. It also includes ‘natural’ waste such as soil, sand, grass clippings and leaves – these can cause major problems if they accumulate and become concentrated in waterways.

In the Eltham Industrial Estate, testing in August 2019 found that the industrial area is generating high levels of zinc, oil, copper and lead compared to activities upstream of the drain.

How can I prevent pollutants from entering stormwater?

There are many ways we can all do our bit to protect our environment and make sure our creeks, rivers and wetlands are free from pollutants.

At home, these include:

  • Making sure all litter goes into a secure bin
  • Pick up after your pets – use a scoop or bag and place in your bin or garden/compost
  • Look for low-toxin fertilisers for your garden, use sparingly, and not before rain is forecast
  • Wash your car on a grassed or gravel area using low-phosphate detergent, or take it to a carwash that recycles water
  • Clean up any spills using dry absorbent materials and dispose of in your bin – never hose them down the drain!

As a business owner, these include:

  • Educating yourself and your staff about stormwater pollution
  • Clearly marking stormwater entry points on your site so they are not used for waste disposal
  • Controlling airborne sprays, and using spill trays in case of a liquid spill
  • Getting a spill kit and training staff to use it

And much more!

 

Eltham Industrial Estate Stormwater Pollution Education program

The Eltham Industrial Estate is in close proximity to the Diamond Creek waterway, with stormwater runoff from the Industrial Estate entering Diamond Creek via the Karringal-Yallock drain. 

Nillumbik Shire Council has partnered with Bio2Lab to engage with businesses in the Eltham Industrial Estate - providing education about the health of the creek and the role of local businesses can play in maintaining a healthy local environment.

During August, Bio2Lab is undertaking environmental testing to determine the current status of the health of the Diamond Creek waterway. Initial testing has found that the industrial area is generating high levels of zinc, oil, copper and lead compared to activities upstream of the drain. 

Bio2Lab representatives will visit businesses in the Industrial Estate to raise awareness about the impacts of stormwater runoff, and work with businesses to make simple changes to prevent stormwater pollution. In November, Bio2Lab will repeat their tests of the waterway to determine the impact of the project and associated changes.

 

stormwater-graphic.jpg