Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2004-2005 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, 1990) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC, 1992). 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 enterococci compliance with Beachwatch water quality criteria.
Details: Chapter 1 (PDF format, 198 KB).
Results for 2004-2005
Excellent results were recorded for Sydney's ocean beaches. For the first time since monitoring began all 35 beaches complied 100% of the time with Beachwatch guidelines for faecal coliforms and 29 of the 35 beaches complied 100% of the time with the enterococci criteria.
There was a slight decrease in recreational water quality in most harbour areas monitored by Beachwatch, as measured by faecal coliform and enterococci compliance, throughout summer 2004-2005. This occurred during a period of average rainfall being recorded in Sydney.
Of the 126 swimming sites monitored for both faecal coliforms and enterococci in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, 71 sites complied 100% of the time with Beachwatch criteria for both faecal coliforms and enterococci for summer 2004-2005.
Most swimming sites recorded high levels of compliance with faecal coliform criteria, with 87% of sites complying all of the time and all but two sites complying more than 80% of the time. One hundred and nine swimming sites (87% of sites) complied more than 80% of the time with enterococci criteria.
Sydney metropolitan ocean beaches
Sydney's cleanest beaches during 2004-2005 were Palm, Whale, Avalon, Bilgola, Newport, Bungan, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Turimetta, North Narrabeen, Collaroy, Long Reef, Dee Why, North Curl Curl, South Curl Curl, Freshwater, Queenscliff, North Steyne and Shelly Beach (Manly) in Sydney's north, the city beaches of Bondi, Tamarama and Maroubra 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-one of the 35 Sydney beaches complied more than 80% with Beachwatch guidelines for both bacterial indicators (faecal coliforms and enterococci). The beaches with enterococci compliance lower than 80% in 2004-2005 were Bronte, Coogee, Malabar and Boat Harbour in Sydney's south.
Details: Chapter 3 - Northern Sydney Metropolitan Beaches (PDF format, 2826 KB)
Details: Chapter 3 - City and Southern Metropolitan Beaches (PDF format, 1276 KB)
Hunter region ocean beaches
The good news from previous summer seasons has continued for the Hunter region beaches during summer 2004-2005. 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 faecal coliforms for the entire 2004-2005 summer season. Bacterial levels at Mereweather Beach complied with the faecal coliform criteria 97% of the time.
Sixteen of the 17 Hunter beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch water quality criteria for enterococci for the entire 2004-2005 summer season. Glenrock Lagoon Beach complied with the enterococci criteria 97% of the time.
Details: Chapter 3 - Hunter Region Beaches (PDF format, 2084 KB)
Illawarra region ocean beaches
Nine 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 2004-2005 summer season.
A decrease of 40 percentage points in enterococci compliance compared with 2003-2004 was recorded at Lake Illawarra Entrance. Faecal coliform compliance at this site has remained at 100% over the past two summers.
Details: Chapter 3 - Illawarra Region Beaches (PDF format, 1847 KB)
Sydney metropolitan harbour and bay swimming sites
For the first time in 5 years, an overall decrease in compliance was recorded at harbour beaches in Sydney. Only 18 of the 59 harbour beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for faecal coliforms and enterococci for the 2004-2005 summer season.
Improvements in water quality compared with the previous summer season were recorded at 14 of the 59 harbour sites.
Sites with the biggest improvements in water quality included Clareville Beach and Bayview Baths in Pittwater, Tamborine Bay in Sydney Harbour and Foreshores Beach and Yarra Bay in Botany Bay. Compliances at these sites increased by more than 15 percentage points from the previous summer season.
Improvements in water quality at Foreshores Bay and Yarra Bay may be related to a decreased number of sewage overflows into Botany Bay to the west of the airport. Sydney Water has completed maintenance works on the Southern and Western Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewers (SWSOOS) in this area and work has now moved into the Cooks River catchment. The maintenance requires the temporary isolation of sections of the sewer, reducing the sewer's capacity and increasing the likelihood of sewage overflows during the period of maintenance. The works are necessary to improve the performance of the system and will reduce the number of sewage overflows in the future.
Port Hacking recorded an improvement in compliance compared with summer 2003-2004, with an increase from one to four sites complying 100% of the time with swimming guidelines.
A decrease in the levels of compliance with swimming guidelines was recorded at 31 of the 59 harbour sites.
In Sydney Harbour, decreases in compliance from the previous summer of more than 20 percentage points were recorded at Little Sirius Cove, Redleaf Pool and Davidson Reserve. An increase in the number of sewage overflows into the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers may explain the lower levels of compliance in Sydney Harbour.
Decreases in compliance of more than 20 percentage points were also recorded at Como Baths and Oatley Bay Baths in the lower Georges River and at Brighton-le-Sands in Botany Bay.
Details: Chapter 4 - Pittwater (PDF format, 1912 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Sydney Harbour (PDF format, 2318 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Botany Bay, Georges River, Port Hacking (PDF format, 2130 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 2004-2005 in the following areas:
- NSW Government's Urban Stormwater Program
- Sydney Water's Stormwater Environmental Improvement Program
Sewage Treatment Plants
- Sydney Water's SewerFix Program
- Sydney Water's Hotspots Program
- Upgrades to the sewerage system in the Hunter
Details: Chapter 2 (PDF format, 81 KB)
Beachwatch quality assurance program
The Beachwatch quality assurance (QA) program is undertaken to ensure that the data collected and presented are 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 are collected according to established protocols, the microbiological data are reliable, and Beachwatch information reported to the community is accurate and timely.
Details: Chapter 5 (PDF format, 92 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 2004-2005, a special study was undertaken in Darling Harbour.
Details: Special studies (PDF format, 515 KB)
There are three appendixes to this report:
- Appendix 1 describes the use of indicator micro-organisms 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 is intended to point the reader towards other information sources relating to bacterial pollution of waterways used for recreation and human health risks.
A list of references, a glossary, and a beach index are also provided at the end of the report.
Details: Appendixes (PDF format, 219 KB).
The format and structure of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2004-2005 may have been adapted for web delivery.
The report was reviewed by the Beachwatch Advisory Committee:
Bernard Carlon (Chairperson), Department of Environment and Conservation NSW
Rex Campbell, Surfrider Foundation
Graham Cassidy, Australian Professional Surfers Association
Paul Byleveld, NSW Department of Health
David Harrison, Australian Yachting Federation
Patricia Harvey, Sydney Coastal Council
Colin Huntingdon, Total Catchment Management
Colin Lennox, Oz Green (representing the Nature Conservation Council)
For technical information about this report contact:
Beachwatch, Department of Environment and Conservation NSW
59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232
Phone: (02) 9995 5344
Fax: (02) 9995 5913
Size: 297 mm x 210 mm (A4)
Length: 327 pp + cover
Published: October 2005
This publication was printed on recycled paper.
Department of Environment and Conservation NSW
59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232
Phone: (02) 9995 5000 (switchboard)
131 555 (environment information and publications requests)
1300 361 967 (national parks information and publications requests)
Fax: (02) 9995 5999
TTY: (02) 9211 4723
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 2004-2005 is copyright, however the Department of Environment and Conservation is pleased to allow this material to be reproduced in whole or part, provided the meaning is unchanged and its source, publisher and authorship are acknowledged.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011