The EPA has published its Annual Report for 2019-20, covering the work of the Board and Director, and the staff of EPA Tasmania (the Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment that supports the EPA).
Some of the key points within the Report include:
- Membership of the EPA Board remained unchanged; the Board met on 11 occasions and undertook the environmental assessment of three proposed Level 2 activities.
- There were 12 assessments completed, all within the statutory timeframe and no decisions were appealed or overturned due to incorrect procedures; and 54 assessments were underway in the EPA at the year's end.
- The EPA regulated a total of 542 activities; these included 367 Level 2 industrial activities, 80 wastewater treatment plants, 65 fish farms, 30 waste management activities, and 20 contaminated sites.
- Of the 65 premises regulated under salmon aquaculture, there were 44 marine farms, 20 inland hatcheries and one reverse osmosis water plant supporting marine finfish farming activities.
- The EPA's Memorandum of Understanding with TasWater (which manages 77 of the 80 Level 2 Watewater Treatment Plants) ended in December 2019, and TasWater established the Capital Delivery Office to monitor progress on its strategic capital investments.
- The State reused 11.5% of the total volume of treated effluent (data from 2018-19), which is the highest volume to date; and discharged 52% into estuarine waters, 25% into coastal waters and 12% into inland waters.
- Of the total volume of waste generated in the State (data from 2018-19), 57% was disposed of to landfill and 46.2% was recovered through recycling or composting; this figure has increased from 26% over the last decade.
- The EPA continued to support the Tasmanian Government's waste initiatives with the launch of Report Rubbish website and mobile app, supporting amendments to the Litter Act 2007 to increase penalties for dumping larger amounts of rubbish, and planning for the introduction of a container refund scheme. At a National level, the EPA focused on issues relating to the National Waste Policy Action Plan and the Council of Australian Governments' policy on waste export bans.
- The EPA continued to participate in the nationally coordinated response to the management of PFAS, releasing a Progress Update in August 2019, which detailed contaminated sites under investigation and progress on projects such as the ambient monitoring study being carried out in Tasmanian waterways.
- Monitoring of water quality under the Savage River Rehabilitation Program showed that copper concentrations in the lower Savage River have continued to decline, and the findings of the most recent bioassessment survey reflect the onogoing improvement in river health.
- The EPA issued 9 Infringement Notices and 2 Written Warnings under EMPCA; and 86 Infringement Notices and one Abatement Notice under the Litter Act 2007.
- The EPA prosecuted Huon Aquaculture Company Pty Ltd, which was convicted of one count of depositing a pollutant and five counts of breaches of the Environment Protection Notice (offences that occurred between August 2015 and May 2018); and the Company was fined $40,000.
- The EPA received 30 reports relating to marine fuel and oil spills during the year in coastal areas and estuaries, responding to six incidents of sunken vessels at St Helens between January and June 2020.
- Measurement of winter smoke levels caused by domestic wood heaters via the EPA's network of 35 air monitoring stations, showed that the towns most polluted by domestic woodsmoke were Longford, Hadspen, Perth, New Norfolk, and Westbury.
- The EPA continued to monitor water quality in relation to salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour, confirming that the average dissolved oxygen levels for middle and bottom waters remain low.
- The EPA conducted 17 noise surveys, continuing to focus on the Bell Bay industrial area and Tamar Valley region, and responding to complaints about noise from fish farming activities.
- Lion Dairy and Drinks of Lenah Valley won the EPA Sustainability Award, which is a category of the Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards sponsored by the EPA for the seventh consecutive year.
- The EPA released a teacher's manual for Grade 2 Litter, Guidelines for Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners, and Sewage Pumping Station Environmental Guidelines.
- The EPA produced 27 media statements and responded to 74 enquiries from the media.
A copy of this year's EPA Annual Report is available here.