Does water flow downhill? Merlynston Creek contaminted in Hume, but not in Moreland?

Picture perfect Jack Roper Reserve, just don’t go swimming, fishing, or boating

Merlynston Creek has had continual problems with e-coli contamination for at least two two years, according to a motion at Hume Council meeting in August. The report of the pollution from SKM recycling fire in July 2017 also found high levels of e-coli contamination that has continued.

The following question was asked at Moreland Council meeting on 14 August, 2019 by Fawkner resident John Englart, regarding High levels of continuing e-coli contamination in Merlynston Creek.

It has come to my attention that there are high levels of continuing e-coli contamination in Merlynston Creek and at Jack Roper Reserve since at least the Coolaroo fire in July 2017 (and may predate this event). It appears the source of the contamination is still not known, with permanent Health Warning signs erected along Merlynston creek and at Jack Roper Reserve in Hume municipality. This appears to be much more serious than a short term issue.

As Merlynston Creek flows through Glenroy, Hadfield and Coburg North before entering Merri Creek, have Council officers been informed of any testing of Merlynston Creek waters within Moreland municipality for e-coli contamination or other contaminants including heavy metals, and if yes, when were the tests conducted and what were the test results? Is it safe for residents to paddle, or dogs to swim in Merlynston Creek and in Merri Creek downstream of the confluence?

Are Council Officers liasing with Hume Council and EPA Victoria on this issue?

Greg Gale – Acting Director of City Infrastructure answered:

Thankyou for your question. Not aware of any tests at the moment, but given the details of your question, probably best we take that on notice and give you a response.

The question followed a motion passed at Hume Council the previous Monday:

Hume Council motion 12 August 2019
Councillor Jodi Jackson

Moved Cr Jodi Jackson, Seconded Cr Geoff Porter

1. Council investigates hosting a community forum for Councillors and residents to learn about the ongoing issue of E. Coli contamination, which has affected the Merlynston Creek and seen Jack Roper Reserve Lake in Broadmeadows closed for use since July 2017; and

2. Invites Dr Angie Bone in her capacity as Deputy Chief Health Officer (Environment) and a representative of the EPA to present and provide their advice on:
• The nature of the water pollution
• The potential source of the contamination
• What is and is not known about the source of contamination
• What is being done to remediate the existing contamination
• What progress the community can expect in the next 6-12 months


The formal response from Moreland Council was underwhelming and is included below:

Merlynston Creek Contamination: Moreland Council response

Council is unaware of any testing for e-coli contamination in Moreland. So through chinese whispers via Hume Council, EPA don’t expect impacts downstream of Jack Roper Reserve.

Water flows down hill, doesn’t it? I would think any e-coli contamination would also be likely to be transferred when water passes through the retention dams and into Moreland.

So Council is not aware of any current testing for contamination, but surely that is a reflection that no tests have likely been undertaken…

Moreland Council prohibits dogs swimming in waterways, but potential contamination might add another reason not to let your dog have a swim in the local creek, and perhaps don’t let your kids have a paddle either.

It is important that Councils collaborate on caring for waterways that funnily don’t respect Council boundaries.

There are questions that also need to be put to the Environment Protection Authority on this, perhaps at the forum in Hume when a date is confirmed…

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