How do we test?
Water quality samples are routinely collected throughout the year at ocean beaches in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions and at estuarine swimming sites in Sydney. Swimming locations monitored along the NSW coast under the Beachwatch Partnership Program are generally only monitored during the summer swimming season (October to April).
During the summer season (October to April) each site is monitored approximately once every six days, using aseptic sampling technique. At ocean beaches 6-day sampling continues year round. At harbour beaches, 6-day sampling is limited to the summer season, with monthly surveillance sampling undertaken during the winter period (May to September) when many pools are closed and shark nets removed.
The sampling procedures used by Beachwatch are in accordance with NHMRC 2008 Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters which require sampling be conducted only while the site is in use.
Aseptic sampling technique
This technique ensures that samples are not contaminated during collection and involves:
What happens next?
After water samples are collected, they are stored on ice to prevent bacterial die-off or growth and sent to a commercial laboratory for analysis. Samples are tested for levels of the bacterial indicator, enterococci, which indicates the degree of sewage contamination in the water. The results are compared to water quality guidelines and are reported to the community.
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Page last updated: 15 February 2013