Dry Creek saltfields
The Dry Creek saltfields are an area of evaporation ponds stretching more than 30 km along the coast from Dry Creek to Middle Beach.
Several State Government agencies are involved with the regulation of the saltfields. Please click below to go to the relevant site depending on the nature of your query:
- The lead regulator, visit the Department for Energy and Mining.
- Mangroves and other vegetation, visit the Department for Environment and Water.
- Media release 27 September 2022
- For information on the regulation of discharges to marine or inland waters associated with salt production, please read below.
The Dry Creek saltfields 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 what is now known to be approximately 10 ha of mangroves and 35 ha of saltmarsh at St Kilda adjacent to the Dry Creek saltfields.
The EPA worked closely with DEM and the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) to understand this complex issue.
The EPA assisted with scientific advice, water sampling and the installation of a piezometer network to collect information on groundwater levels around the ponds.
The government team assessed environmental impacts and conditions, and determined what actions needed to be taken by the saltfields’ operator and by government to prevent further damage to the natural environment and implement works aimed at rehabilitating the affected area. The scientific data and outcomes of this assessment are published on the DEM web site.
In September 2022 the EPA issued a clean-up authorisation to enable DEM and its contractors to access the site to carry out pumping work. This was to reduce the level of water in Pond PA6 and the decision was based on scientific assessment showing a localised rise in surface salinity in the saltmarsh area.
The pumping program ceased in early November 2022 once the pond level had decreased and surface salinity measurements showed no expansion of the area of saltmarsh affected by high salinity water. Consequently, the EPA’s data loggers have been removed and surface salinity monitoring has ceased but DEM’s regular monitoring program will still continue.
The EPA will continue to advise and assist DEM as required.
Separate to the government’s cross-agency actions to assess and respond to the dieback, the EPA also conducted a formal investigation into whether the operator’s actions at the site constitute an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 in relation to the mangrove dieback.
This was a complex investigation that required nearly 12 months of monitoring to collect sufficient data to be able to provide to independent experts.
While the EPA does not publish details of active investigations, the outcome will ultimately be made public.