Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2002-2003 Summary
This report describes the results of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch water quality monitoring and reporting activities at Sydney Metropolitan, Hunter and Illawarra ocean beaches and at Sydney estuarine beaches for the period 1 May 2002 to 30 April 2003. Discussion in this report focuses on the 2002-2003 summer season, which covers the period from 1 October 2002 to 30 April 2003.
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, 415 KB)
Results for 2002-2003
An improvement in beach and harbour water quality was recorded for summer 2002-2003.
There was an overall improvement in recreational water quality, as measured by faecal coliform and enterococci compliance, throughout summer 2002-2003 in most regions monitored by Beachwatch. This occurred during a period of below-average rainfall being recorded in Sydney.
Of the 129 swimming sites included in the Beachwatch and Harbourwatch programs in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, 83 sites complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for summer 2002-2003. This compares favourably with results from the previous summer season (2001-2002), when 74 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 87% of sites complying all of the time. Almost all sites (99%) recorded greater than 80% faecal coliform compliance. One hundred and eighteen swimming sites (94%) recorded more than 80% compliance with enterococci criteria.
Sydney metropolitan ocean beaches
Sydney's cleanest beaches during 2002-2003 were Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola, Newport, Bungan, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Turimetta, Long Reef, Dee Why, North Curl Curl, South Curl Curl, Freshwater and North Steyne in Sydney's north, the city beach of Maroubra and the southern beaches of Greenhills, Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla, Shelly Beach (Sutherland) and Oak Park. These beaches all recorded 100% compliance with criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci.
Thirty-one out of 35 Sydney beaches complied more than 80% with Beachwatch guidelines for both bacterial indicators (faecal coliforms and enterococci). This is similar to results from the previous summer (2001-2002), when 32 beaches complied more than 80% for both indicators. The four beaches with enterococci compliance levels lower than 80% were Queenscliff (56%), Coogee (72%), Malabar (75%) and South Cronulla (69%).
Details: Chapter 3 - Northern Sydney ocean beaches (PDF format, 2774 KB)
Details: Chapter 3 - City and Southern Sydney ocean beaches (PDF format, 1124 KB)
Hunter region ocean beaches
The good news from previous summer seasons continued for the Hunter region beaches during summer 2002-2003. Once again, Hunter beaches are the cleanest group of beaches monitored as part of the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Beachwatch program.
Sixteen of the 17 Hunter beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch water quality criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for the entire 2002-2003 summer season. Swansea Heads Little Beach did not comply 100% with the enterococci criteria, although compliance was still high at 90%.
Details: Chapter 3 - Hunter region ocean beaches (PDF format, 1974 KB)
Illawarra region ocean beaches
Ten of the 15 beaches monitored for both faecal coliforms and enterococci recorded 100% compliance with Beachwatch criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci during the 2002-2003 summer season. This is a slightly lower level of compliance than for summer 2001-2002.
A 37-percentage point decrease in faecal coliform compliance was recorded at Fishermans Beach. Decreases in enterococci compliance were recorded at Fishermans Beach (31-percentage point), North Wollongong Beach (12-percentage points) and Lake Illawarra (43-percentage points).
Details: Chapter 3 - Illawarra region ocean beaches (PDF format, 1744 KB)
Sydney metropolitan harbour and bay swimming sites
For the second consecutive summer season, there was an overall improvement in recreational water quality, as determined by faecal coliform and enterococci compliance, at harbour beaches in Sydney.
Thirty-five of the 59 harbour beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for faecal coliforms and enterococci for the 2002-2003 summer season. This compares favourably with the results from the previous two summers, with six beaches recording 100% compliance for both indicators in 1999-2000 and 23 harbour beaches recording 100% compliance for both indicators in 2000-2001.
Twenty-seven of the 59 sites recorded an improvement in water quality for one or both bacterial indicators compared with the previous summer season.
Sixteen harbour beaches recorded a decrease in compliance for one or both bacterial indicators during summer 2002-2003. 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 Hayes Street Beach, Little Sirius Cove, Redleaf Pool, Rose Bay Beach, Watsons Bay, Parsley Bay and Dawn Fraser Pool.
Details: Chapter 4 - Pittwater (PDF format, 2548 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Sydney Harbour (PDF format, 2296 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Lower Georges River, Botany Bay and Port Hacking (PDF format, 1984 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 2002-2003 in the following areas:
Sewage Treatment Plants
Details: Chapter 2 (PDF format, 179 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, 179 KB)
The routine monitoring of bacterial water quality undertaken by the Beachwatch and Harbourwatch programs has established a good understanding of how receiving waters respond to changing pressures from adjacent catchments. However, targeted studies are from time to time required to investigate specific causes of poor water quality that may have aroused community concerns. During 2002-2003, special studies were undertaken in Darling Harbour, Boat Harbour and South Maroubra Rock Pool.
Details: Chapter 6 (PDF format, 789 KB)
There are three appendixes to this report:
A list of references, a glossary, and a beach index are also provided at the end of the report.
Details: Appendixes (PDF format, 345 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
Phone: 131 555 (publications and information requests)
(02) 9995 5000 (switchboard)
Fax: 9995 5999
Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches
Size: 297 mm x 210 mm (A4)
Length: 325 pp + cover
Published: October 2003
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