Statement on the Korumburra incident

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Robert Murphy, Managing Director:
The legal matter between the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and South Gippsland Water (SGW) over a disruption to the Korumburra Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in early 2021 has been resolved. During the final hearing in the Korumburra Magistrates’ Court on 4 April 2024, SGW entered a plea of guilty to a licence breach of ammonia.
The incident, resulting from a series of illegal discharges into the sewerage network, severely impacted the treatment process at Korumburra WWTP. The source of the illegal discharges remains unidentified, despite extensive investigation by SGW staff.
SGW took several corrective actions at the time to minimise the impact on the environment, including diverting flows into an emergency storage and transporting over 300 truckloads of wastewater to other treatment plants. In all, about eight megalitres (equivalent to four Olympic swimming pools) were transported. Ecological experts confirmed that there was no measurable impact on Foster Creek during the incident.
The magistrate found that a conviction was not necessary or appropriate in this case. SGW was released on an undertaking to be of good behaviour for 12 months, with a condition to pay a bond of $10,000 into the court fund. SGW was also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of $6,780. SGW will be contributing $50,000 to the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority for a restoration project in the Foster/Powlett Creek catchment.
The magistrate remarked that the licence breach was not due to any error or failure of SGW, but rather caused by illegal dumping of an unidentified entity. The contravention occurred with no fault of SGW and SGW’s culpability was low.
Ultimately, illegal discharges into the sewer network caused the incident at Korumburra WWTP. Members of the public are encouraged to contact SGW on 1300 851 636 if they see any suspicious activity around sewer assets.