In November 2012, a truck accident in Fawkner caused non-toxic iron oxide dye to spill into a tributary of Merri Creek and painted a wetland bright red.
The truck was exiting the Western Ring Rd on to Sydney Rd, Fawkner when 800 litres of iron oxide dye spilt into a drain leading to wetlands in the Campbellfield Creek retarding basin. The retarding basin lies between the Upfield Railway line and the Northern Memorial Park in Fawkner.
Campbellfield Creek is a tributary of Merri Creek. Melbourne Water has estimated that 17 million litres of contaminated water is contained within the wetland. Barriers have been set up to contain the dye, but some contaminated water had entered Merri Creek by Thursday 29 November 2012. Melbourne Water crews are working day and night to pump contaminated water from the wetland into a nearby sewer and are hopeful no more dyed water will enter Merri Creek.
Although the spill is non-toxic, the Leader newspaper has reported the Environmental Protection Authority will be testing to monitor potential impact. The iron oxide is used to colour landscape mulch.
Merri Creek Management Committee Manager, Luisa Macmillan, said the incident highlights the extreme vulnerability of urban waterways to pollution spills. It also shows the immense value of wetlands and other systems to filter and treat water from drains before discharge to local creeks. The wetlands on Campbellfield Creek are the only wetlands in the City of Moreland to treat road and roof runoff before it enters Merri Creek.