May 2016. Darebin Creek (Vic) Eel Deaths. Pesticide: Permethrin

EPA warns pesticide could have poisoned eels and fish in Darebin Creek

A PESTICIDE is being blamed for killing at least 20 eels and fish in Darebin Creek and is a growing problem in waterways across Melbourne.

The EPA has reported the dead animals were found washed up along the 3km of the creek between Bell St in Bellfield and Darebin Parklands in Alphington last month.

EPA Regional Services executive director Damian Wells said the eel deaths were likely caused by a pesticide — permethrin — polluting the stormwater system.

Mr Wells said this chemical is found in fly and insect sprays, dog shampoo, head lice treatments, commercial pest control and agriculture processes.

“While this pesticide is generally safe for humans, it’s highly toxic to aquatic life,” Mr Wells said.

“An analysis of eel organs identified the presence of a chemical called permethrin, which is commonly used in domestic and industrial pesticide found in many products.”

Mr Wells said the pesticide quickly breaks up in water and the EPA officers could not detect exactly where the chemical entered the creek or conduct a clean-up.

“Stormwater from your business, home and garden drains to the nearest creek, river lake or bay, so we must all be mindful of what enters our stormwater drains,” he said.

He said water samples collected following the eel deaths show no chemicals of concerns and the EPA is confident the water has returned to its normal state.

An EPA assessment, seen by Heidelberg Leader, said the authority had also recently investigated permethrin sources in Melbourne’s east which has proved “very difficult” to identify because of widespread use and how fast the chemical passes through the system.

The report also said synthetic insecticides were a growing issue and had been found across Melbourne’s waterways.

Banyule’s Mayor Craig Langdon said a ranger had reported there were more than 100 dead eels found along Darebin Creek and not just 20.

“It’s an issue for the whole area,” Cr Langdon said.

“Banyule is surrounded by the Darebin Creek, Plenty River and Yarra River, with tributaries running off like Salt Creek.”

He said his concern was how widespread the issue was across Melbourne.

“This needs to be looked at by the State Government,” Cr Langdon said.

“I was told eels can live almost anywhere so if they are dying then how bad must it be?”

Visit the EPA for tips on reducing stormwater pollution.