Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2001-2002 Summary
This report describes the results of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch monitoring and reporting activities at Sydney Metropolitan, Hunter and Illawarra ocean beaches and at Sydney estuarine beaches for the period 1 May 2001 to 30 April 2002. Discussion in this report focuses on the 2001-2002 summer season, which covers the period from 1 October 2001 to 30 April 2002.
Beachwatch uses two types of indicator bacteria, faecal coliforms and enterococci, to measure recreational water quality, as recommended by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC). These guidelines also refer to other physical and chemical parameters for the assessment of recreational water quality, such as pH, clarity and temperature. Beachwatch focuses on the use of faecal coliforms and enterococci as these indicate the possible presence of waterborne pathogens that pose the most significant risks to human health. Results presented in this report are described in terms of faecal coliform and enterococcal compliance with Beachwatch water quality criteria.
Details: Chapter 1 (PDF format, 598 KB)
Results for 2001-2002
A considerable improvement in beach and harbour water quality was recorded for summer 2001-2002.
There was an overall improvement in recreational water quality, as measured by faecal coliform and enterococcal compliance, throughout summer 2001-2002 in most regions monitored by Beachwatch. This was despite above-average rainfall being recorded in Sydney for the fourth consecutive summer.
Of the 129 swimming sites included in the Beachwatch and Harbourwatch programs in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, 74 sites complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for summer 2001-2002. This compares favourably with results from the previous summer season (2000-2001), when 54 sites complied with water quality criteria for both indicators all of the time.
Most swimming sites recorded high levels of compliance with faecal coliform criteria, with 78% of sites complying all of the time. Almost all sites (98%) recorded greater than 80% faecal coliform compliance. One hundred and seventeen swimming sites (92%) recorded more than 80% compliance with enterococcal criteria.
Sydney metropolitan ocean beaches
Sydney's cleanest beaches during 2001-2002 were the northern beaches of Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola, Newport, Bungan, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Turimetta, North Narrabeen, Collaroy, Long Reef, Dee Why and South Curl Curl, the city beach of Bronte and the southern beaches of Greenhills, Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla, South Cronulla, Shelly Beach (Sutherland) and Oak Park. These beaches all recorded 100% compliance with criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci.
Thirty-two of the 35 Sydney beaches complied more than 80% with Beachwatch guidelines for both bacterial indicators (faecal coliforms and enterococci). This compares favourably with results from the previous summer (2000-2001), when 25 beaches complied more than 80% for both indicators.
Almost half of the 35 Sydney ocean beaches monitored by Beachwatch recorded more than a 10-percentage point increase in compliance with recreational water quality criteria in summer 2001-2002 compared with summer 2000-2001. The most dramatic improvements occurred at the southern Sydney beaches as a result of the upgrade to the Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) (see case study on page iv).
Only three beaches recorded enterococcal compliance levels lower than 80%. These were Clovelly (75%), Maroubra (78%) and Boat Harbour (72%).
Details: Chapter 3 - Northern Sydney Beaches (PDF format, 1262 KB)
Details: Chapter 3 - City and Southern Sydney Beaches (PDF format, 733 KB)
Hunter region ocean beaches
The Hunter region beaches continued to be the cleanest group of beaches monitored as part of the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Beachwatch program, with high levels of compliance recorded throughout summer 2001-2002.
Sixteen of the 17 Hunter beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch water quality criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for the entire 2001-2002 summer season. Bar Beach did not comply with 100% with faecal coliform and enterococci criterion, although compliance was still high at 94% for both indicators. Stormwater drains discharge to this beach.
Details: Chapter 3 - Hunter Region Beaches (PDF format, 1017 KB)
Illawarra region ocean beaches
The good news for the Illawarra beaches from the previous summer season continued in summer 2001-2002. Seventeen of the 18 Illawarra beaches tested for faecal coliforms recorded 100% compliance with Beachwatch criteria. Of the 15 beaches tested for enterococci, 12 beaches recorded 100% compliance.
The greatest increase in enterococcal compliance was recorded at the entrance to Lake Illawarra, where faecal coliform compliance increased by 13-percentage points (to 100% compliance) and enterococci compliance increased by 19-percentage points (to 87% compliance). This improvement follows on from gains in the previous summer season and water quality at Lake Illawarra Entrance is now comparable to other sites in the Illawarra.
Details: Chapter 3 - Illawarra Region Beaches (PDF format, 813 KB)
Sydney metropolitan harbour and bay swimming sites
For the second consecutive summer season, there was an overall improvement in recreational water quality at harbour beaches in Sydney. Thirty-three of the 59 sites recorded an improvement in water quality for one or both bacterial indicators compared to the previous summer season.
Twenty-three harbour beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for the 2001-2002 summer season. This compares favourably with the results from the previous summer, 2000-2001, when sixteen harbour beaches recorded 100% compliance for both indicators.
Twenty-one harbour beaches recorded a decrease in compliance for one or both bacterial indicators during summer 2001-2002. In most cases the decreases were 10-percentage points or less. Harbour beaches that recorded decreases of more than 10-percentage points for one or both indicators were Northbridge Baths, Chinamans Beach, Balmoral Baths and Little Sirius Cove in Sydney Harbour, Carss Point Baths in lower Georges River, and Ramsgate Baths, Kyeemagh Baths and Silver Beach in Botany Bay.
Details: Chapter 4 - Pittwater (PDF format, 884 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Sydney Harbour (PDF format, 1883 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Lower Georges River, Botany Bay, Port Hacking (PDF format, 1356 KB)
Actions to improve beach and harbour water quality
Many actions are being taken to prevent pollution at the beach. State and local governments are tackling sources of pollution in a range of ways. Chapter 2 outlines the developments and achievements of 2001-2002 in the following areas:
Sewage Treatment Plants
Upgrades to Sydney's coastal sewage treatment plants
Sydney Water's Illawarra Wastewater Strategy
The Gerringong/Gerroa Sewerage Scheme
- Sydney Water's SewerFix Program
- Upgrades to the sewerage system in the Hunter
Details: Chapter 2 (PDF format, 204 KB)
Beachwatch quality assurance program
The Beachwatch quality assurance (QA) program is undertaken to ensure that the data collected and presented is accurate and reliable. This includes QA of field sampling, microbiological analysis of beach water samples and reporting to the community. Results indicate that Beachwatch field data is collected according to established protocols, the microbiological data is reliable, and Beachwatch information reported to the community is accurate and timely.
Details: Chapter 5 (PDF format, 162 KB)
There are four appendixes to this report:
Appendix 1 describes the use of indicator microorganisms in establishing the suitability of a body of water for recreational use.
Appendix 2 presents the detailed results of the microbiological quality assurance program.
Appendix 3 presents monitoring results from Darling Harbour
Appendix 4 is intended to point the reader towards other information sources relating to both bacterial pollution of waterways used for recreation, and human health risks.
A list of references and a glossary are also provided at the end of the report.
Details: Appendixes (PDF format, 232 KB)
The format and structure of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches may have been adapted for web delivery.
Environment Protection Authority
59-61 Goulburn St
Sydney NSW 2000
PO Box A290
Sydney South NSW 1232
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Fax: 9995 5999
Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches
Size: 297 mm x 210 mm (A4)
Length: 300 pp + cover
ISSN: 1441-4147 6
Published: October 2002
This publication was printed on recycled paper.
Disclaimer: The EPA has compiled the information in this publication in good faith, exercising all due care and attention. No representation is made as to its accuracy, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose. Readers should seek appropriate advice as to the suitability of the information for their particular needs.
Copyright: Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches is copyright, however the EPA is pleased to allow the reproduction of material from this publication on the condition that the source, publisher and authorship are appropriately acknowledged.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011