River Murray vessels compliance audit
Last month, water quality senior compliance officers undertook a vessel audit in the Renmark region to identify vessels that do not comply with the greywater requirements under the Code of Practice for Vessel and Facility Management (marine and inland waters).
The EPA’s Investigations and Tactical Branch also assisted carrying out site inspections of suspected illegal sand dumping and, where appropriate, issuing infringement notices.
The EPA works closely with houseboat owners both during and after the audits to help them rectify any breaches within a set timeframe. If required the officers can issue environment protection orders (EPOs) and court orders to vessel owners that continue to infringe.
In response to a recent increase in illegal sand dumping in the River Murray, the EPA has stepped up its campaign within the Murraylands region to educate and enforce compliance with the relevant legislation. Placing sand into any waters has adverse effects on water quality and impacts the local environment. This practice increases turbidity, smothers natural sediments, flora and fauna, fouls pumping infrastructure, increases dredging activity and contributes significantly to the creation of sand bars which impede navigation of the river channel.
All vessels from Lock 5 upstream to Woolshed Bend (612 km to the Murray Mouth) were included in the audit. Of the 91 vessels in the region, 21 were non-complaint with greywater requirements (77% compliance) and 4 non-compliant with black water requirements (96% compliance). One sand dumping occurrence was inspected and numerous illegal developments on the river bank.