Dry Creek salt fields
The Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) is the lead regulator and regulates the Dry Creek salt fields site under the Mining Act 1971. Please check their their website for updates.
The Dry Creek salt fields were previously owned by the Ridley Corporation, which ended salt extraction there in 2014. The site was subsequently purchased by Buckland Dry Creek Pty Ltd (BDC) which took on the mining lease for the site. It is part of the Non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying industry.
BDC also has a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 for chemical storage and warehousing facilities, chemical works (salt production) and discharges to marine or inland waters for sites across the eastern side of Gulf St Vincent.
In mid-September 2020, DEM requested support from the EPA to investigate the cause of the dieback of approximately 10 ha of mangroves and 35 ha of saltmarsh at St Kilda adjacent to the Dry Creek salt fields.
The EPA is working closely with DEM and the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) to understand this complex issue. A cross-agency project team, led by DEM, has been formed.
The EPA is assisting with scientific advice, water sampling and the installation of a piezometer network to collect information on groundwater levels around the ponds.
While it is not known for certain what is causing the dieback, salinity and the management of water in the salt fields is an obvious focus. It is also likely that waterlogging has contributed to saltmarsh deaths in the affected area.
The government team is assessing environmental impacts, and determining what actions need to be taken by the salt fields’ operator and by government to prevent further damage to the natural environment and implement works aimed at rehabilitating the affected area.