One in five places to swim in New South Wales Classified as having “weak” or “very poor” pollution levels, including Sydney’s famous Coogee Beach, after the state had the wettest summer in a decade.
Twice as many beaches, lakes and lakes have been exposed to levels related to pollution and sanitation since 2019, according to the annual report. Beaches Status Report Published by the Department of Planning and Environment of New South Wales.
80% of swimming sites have “good” or “very good” pollution rates. But a number of popular beaches have been rated as having poor water quality due to heavy rainfall and flood waters inundating the waterways.
These include Sydney’s Coogee and Rose Bay beaches, Terrigal Beach and Toowon Bay on the central coast, Walgolga Main Beach and Emerald Beach on the north-central coast, and Casey and Surf beaches on the south coast.
Coogee, Rose Bay, as well as Northbridge and Bayview Baths were among those downgraded to “poor” water quality after being classified as having “fair” or “good” water quality in last year’s report.
The director of the Australian Graduate School of Engineering, Professor Stuart Khan, said the findings were worrying but not surprising after the heavy rains.
“We’ve had a few underperforming beaches, not necessarily the ones we don’t expect but it’s not what we want to see,” Khan said. “You tend to see worse performance after long periods of rain.”
Khan said Coogee is more susceptible to pollution than other beaches because it is closed and has large pipes to drain rainwater.
The beach received a “Poor” rating in 2016 after a “Big” leakage of raw sewage into water When tree roots blocked a pipe on Dudley Street.
But Khan said it’s a different story in Terrigal, which often has poor water quality because it doesn’t flow well due to its proximity to the lake.
“If there is any storm water run-off in the lake or any leakage from sewage or septic tanks in the area, you will get high concentrations of bacteria in the lake,” he said. “Many rivers, estuaries and lakes will affect the water quality of local beaches.”
The annual report provides an overview of the water quality at 214 swimming sites across the state, which are monitored under the NSW Government’s Beachwatch Program and the Beachwatch Partnership.
Residents sample ocean beaches once a week throughout the year and from estuaries or harbor beaches once a week between October and April and then between May and September.
A poor rating means that the site is “prone to fecal contamination and that microbial water quality is not always suitable for swimming.”
Enterococci, the bacteria found in the human gut, are what residents look for when testing seawater. Swimming in polluted water can lead to infection, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis A.
Beachwatch advises at these sites that they should “ensure that the swimming site is free from signs of pollution, such as discolored water, odor or debris in the water, and avoid swimming at all times during rain and for up to three days after it rains.”
The report found that about 94% of the state’s 123 ocean beaches were rated “good” or “very good.”
According to the data, many swimming sites in estuaries, lakes and lakes did not perform as well as ocean beaches because they are more susceptible to the effects of wet weather.
The environment minister, James Griffin, said the state’s beaches performed slightly worse than last year, “despite the wettest summer in a decade and Sydney’s wettest year on record”.
“With more than 85% of people in NSW living within 50 kilometers of the coast, heading to a local swimming spot is a way of life for many of us,” he said.
“We know how important it is to provide confidence to the people of New South Wales, which is why we announced in the NSW budget that we are expanding the Beechwatch Partnership Program by $18.5 million over 10 years.”