Stony Creek is an urban waterway that runs through Melbourne’s western suburbs and flows into the Yarra River beneath the West Gate Bridge. It is highly valued by the local community, who describe it as “an oasis” and “a haven to escape to” from the noisy traffic of busy roads, and the stresses of everyday city life.
On 30 August 2018, a warehouse in the industrial precinct of Tottenham housing unregistered toxic chemicals caught fire and burned for two weeks. Firewater runoff washed into Stony Creek, causing the contamination and large-scale devastation of a five kilometre section of the creek across the residential suburbs of West Footscray, Kingsville, Yarraville and Spotswood. The incident, which affected the health and wellbeing of the local community and caused the loss of numerous plants and animals – including the death of more than 2,300 fish – has been described as the worst pollution event to a Melbourne waterway in almost 30 years.
The scale of the disaster, including the nature and extent of the contamination, the high level of community concern and significant public impacts, required a collaborative, multi-agency approach throughout the incident response and recovery efforts. Melbourne Water, Maribyrnong City Council, and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria have continued to work closely together since the fire incident and are committed to helping Stony Creek recover.
As custodians of Melbourne’s waterways, Melbourne Water understands how important waterways are to their communities. For this reason, Melbourne Water, together with their partner agencies and the local community, believed that a sustained effort was required to move beyond the recovery of Stony Creek and focus on a more positive phase of rehabilitation. Together, the authors wanted to develop a plan to restore, enhance and protect the condition of the creek and its surrounding environment into the future.
This rehabilitation plan has been developed in consultation with interested local community members, organisations and government agencies. Consultation and engagement has been undertaken through coordinated meetings with agencies and organisations, community events, online activities and conversations. The local community contributed their ideas, aspirations and priorities to support the long-term rehabilitation and future protection of Stony Creek. Their local insights, values and recommended actions have been used to create this rehabilitation plan.