Monitoring and reducing pollution in Dandenong Creek

We are continuing to monitor key pollution hotspots in the Dandenong catchment, as well as testing water and soil quality in adherence to current government restriction guidelines. With many industrial-use areas closed or working at limited capacity during the current COVID-19 restrictions, the data gathered during this time will offer important insights into the pollution problem in Dandenong Creek.

Read our Monitoring and reducing pollution report to learn more about our pollution monitoring program, or check out the frequently asked questions on this page for more information.

Targeting pollution hot spots in Phase 2

Learn more about the problem and use our interactive map below to see the contaminants recorded at each of the pollution hotspots (sampling sites) and their impact on waterways. We're using real-time monitoring devices to identify and track pollution to its source.

Pollution, in particular industrial pollution, is a serious problem to the catchment's waterways and surrounding environment. It not only affects water quality but also the many animals, insects and plants that call the creek home.

Did you know, for example, that a key threat to platypus in the creek is urban and industrial pollution that enters the waterway via stormwater drains?

We've identified that the industrial estates at Old Joes, Bungalook and Heatherdale creeks are releasing high levels of toxic pollutants into the receiving waterways. This can happen via a number of ways: direct runoff into stormwater drains, poor onsite practices, accidental spills, illegal dumping, illegal sewerage connections, cross connections and broken infrastructure.

Testing of water and sediment has revealed pollutants such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, solvents, detergents and pesticides. Urban development in the area is also adding to the problem; testing of waterways and soil in the catchment reveals high levels of commonly used insecticides, other household contaminants, and litter.

These not only harm the plants and animals directly at the source of discharge but also impact waterways and the environment for many kilometres downstream.

A key priority of Phase 2 is reducing chemicals and pollutants from industrial estates that run into the waterways that enter Dandenong Creek. Over the next five years we will be monitoring and managing the following pollution hotspots:

  • Old Joes Creek near Bayswater
  • Croydon Main Drain near Heathmont
  • Bungalook Creek near Bayswater North.

Use the interactive hot spots map below to find out where these locations are.

We are working with multiple stakeholders and taking a multi-level approach to continue addressing this critical and complex issue. Our partners include local councils, community groups, water retailers, Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and universities. Together, we've been carrying out pollution reduction workshops, pollution tours, and innovative research to develop a way forward. We've already made some inroads into developing the next five-year pollution program.

Click on the icons below to see pollution hot spots

Our strategies for tackling the problem

Click on the tabs to learn more.


monitoring graphic

Monitoring when and where pollution has entered creeks in the Dandenong catchment is a vital step to understanding potential polluters and pollutants.

During Phase 1, we installed monitoring devices across several identified pollution 'hot spot's in the catchment's drainage system. These devices are like having 'eyes underground': they give us access to real-time information about pollution occurring in the system. We've continued this important project into Phase 2, where we're working with research partners, Monash University and Iota, to develop more streamlined and energy-efficient sensors that will be installed across the catchment.


pollution logo

Another important part of the pollution puzzle is ensuring businesses and the community understand the risks and repercussions when it comes to pollution. That is, engaging in an activity that may risk or harm human health or the environment from pollution or waste.

The new Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 comes into effect on 1 July 2021. The changes will allow Victoria's Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to work more closely with industry to ensure compliance and cooperation.

As one of our key stakeholders, Melbourne Water is working closely with EPA, as well as local council, water retailers and research partners, to address the serious issue of pollution and contamination in the Dandenong catchment.

This includes developing a pollution-monitoring system that will allow us to respond more quickly - not only in identifying the source of pollution but also by assisting with the prosecution of those illegally contaminating and polluting a waterway.


graphic of water lines and grass

Industrial pollution in the identified pollution hotspots is a major problem for the area's waterways. It harms the surrounding environment and the plants, animals and insects that call the catchment home. Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) is an approach to planning and designing urban areas that re-uses stormwater and stops it from reaching our waterways by mimicking the natural water cycle as closely as possible.

Constructed wetlands are important in WSUD. They can trap contaminants such as heavy metals before they enter Dandenong Creek. But the extent of the pollution means that sediment build up in these wetlands is highly toxic. More needs to be done to address this issue.

Melbourne Water has partnered with RMIT to explore ways of removing contaminants and developing a more efficient treatment process. The lab-scale trials are using non-traditional materials such as coconut husks, sand, clay, and woodchips as filter treatments for removing heavy metals.

Citizen science programs

Citizen science programs are a great way for the community to play a part in helping reduce pollution in Dandenong Creek. Check out some of these other programs, run by Melbourne Water and our stakeholders, to see what's happening on the Pollution front.