Beach water quality investigations continue

Published: 20 October 2022

Eurobodalla Council’s public and environmental health team are investigating ongoing disappointing water-quality readings at Surf Beach.

Council undertakes sampling at Surf Beach – and adjacent Wimbie and Denhams Beaches – along with data on tides, wind, rainfall, and other background factors (the number of bathers, seaweed presence, turbidity, stormwater flow, or bird numbers for example). Sewerage pump stations, outfalls and the waste facility are also checked to ensure they operate effectively and in accordance with environmental protection licences. To date no potential source or reason for water-quality issues at Surf Beach have been identified.

Additional sampling at Surf Beach is a result of Council’s regular and ongoing Beachwatch program, where 11 of the shire’s beaches are sampled five times each month, from November and March. Other sites in the program are Cookies Beach, Caseys Beach, Malua Bay, Broulee North, South Broulee Beach, Shelley Beach, Tuross Main Beach, Brou Beach, Narooma Shark Net and Narooma Main Beach.

The National Health and Medical Research Council's Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters recommend using Enterococci bacteria as an indicator for faecal contamination. Enterococci sp. occur in the gut of all warm-blooded animals making the identification of a definitive source of contamination difficult.

The recent NSW Government’s State of the Beaches 2021-22 has assigned both Surf Beach and Caseys Beach a ‘poor’ rating for the year overall. This does not mean bacteria numbers are constantly high. For example, last season Casey’s Beach exceeded the trigger value – 40 colony forming units per 100ml – four times from 27 samples. It was safe to swim at Caseys Beach and Surf Beach most of the time and when poor results were returned, public warning signs were put out.

Following the State of the Beaches 2021-22 report, Council has also commenced a more comprehensive sampling program for the Caseys Beach catchment and sources of pollution are being investigated. As always, Council advises to avoid swimming at any location for three days after periods of heavy rain or if the water appears to be discoloured or murky.

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