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The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has found lead in groundwater bores surrounding the North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve, coming from a neighbouring gun club.

Testing of 16 groundwater bores within a one kilometre radius of the reserve found the presence of lead in five samples.

The reserve was recently closed to the community after lead from a neighbouring gun club was detected in soil samples at the site’s eastern boundary.

EPA Northeast Manager Clare Kiely said lead levels in groundwater at the five locations were above recommended health drinking water standards.

“As part of EPA’s investigation we have found that one of the five bores is being used for drinking water purposes. This household has been advised to ensure that any further water drawn from the bore is not used for human consumption,” Ms Kiely said.

“All other households where groundwater samples were undertaken will have their results explained to them in person by EPA officers in the coming days.”

Ms Kiely said that in some parts of rural Victoria, private groundwater bores were used as sources of drinking water.

“Where households use groundwater as a source of drinking water, it may need to be treated prior to use. Bore owners are responsible for making sure any bore water they use is fit for its intended use,” Ms Kiely said.

Ms Kiely said following a report from a member of the community, EPA conducted two sets of soil sampling at the reserve recently that indicated the presence of lead in soil above recommended recreation levels.

“As a precautionary measure, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommended that access to this site be restricted until a full environmental investigation and health risk assessment was completed,” Ms Kiely said.

Ms Kiely said investigations would continue to understand the amount and extent of lead contamination that existed at the site.

“Once EPA has the full picture of how much lead is contaminating the reserve and groundwater, it can then provide advice on the most appropriate cleanup methods to ensure all traces of lead can be removed or managed appropriately,” Ms Kiely said.

“Unfortunately access to the sports precinct, including access to buildings, the football oval, outdoor areas and the shooting range will remain restricted by the Rural City of Wangaratta until EPA and DHHS is satisfied that no risk to the environment or the community exists.”

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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