Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2005-2006 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 2005 to 30 April 2006. Discussion in this report focuses on the 2005–2006 summer season, which covers the period from 1 October 2005 to 30 April 2006.
Beachwatch uses two types of indicator bacteria, faecal coliforms (also known as thermotolerant 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, 324 KB)
Results for 2005-2006
The highest level of compliance ever recorded in the 16-year history of the Beachwatch Program was observed in 2005-2006.
Of the 130 swimming locations monitored in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, 107 complied with Beachwatch guidelines 100% of the time. These excellent results are due to very low rainfall and long-term improvements in the management of stormwater and wastewater.
Sydney metropolitan ocean beaches
Sydney's cleanest beaches during summer 2005-2006 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 and North Steyne in Sydney’s north, the city beaches of Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Maroubra and the southern beaches of Greenhills, Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla, South Cronulla and Shelly Beach (Sutherland).
Thirty-three of the 36 swimming locations complied more than 80% of the time with Beachwatch guidelines for both bacterial indicators (faecal coliforms and enterococci). This is a small improvement on the results from the previous summer (2004-2005) when 31 of 35 beaches complied more than 80% of the time. An additional site, Birdwood Park in Narrabeen Lagoon, was included in the Beachwatch Program in summer 2005-2006.
The beaches with a compliance of less than 80% were Birdwood Park at Narrabeen Lagoon (55% for enterococci), Shelly Beach Manly (77% for enterococci) and Malabar Beach (74% for faecal coliforms and 65% for enterococci).
Details: Chapter 3 - Northern Sydney Beaches (PDF format, 1059 KB)
Details: Chapter 3 - City and Southern Sydney Beaches (PDF format, 762 KB)
Hunter region ocean beaches
The good news from previous summer seasons continued for the Hunter region beaches during summer 2005-2006. Once again they were among the cleanest group of beaches monitored under the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Beachwatch program.
The Hunter's cleanest beaches were Zenith, Box, Fingal, One Mile, South Stockton, Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar, Merewether, Burwood North, Burwood South, Glenrock Lagoon, Dudley, Blacksmiths and Caves Beach. All 15 beaches complied 100% with Beachwatch swimming water quality guidelines for both indicators.
Redhead Beach and Swansea Heads Little beaches both complied 100% of the time for faecal coliforms and 91% of the time for enterococci.
Details: Chapter 3 - Hunter Region Beaches (PDF format, 854 KB)
Illawarra region ocean beaches
Nine of the 15 beaches monitored for both faecal coliforms and enterococci recorded 100% compliance with Beachwatch water quality guidelines during the 2005-2006 summer season. These beaches were Bulli, Wollongong City, Fishermans, Port Kembla, Warilla, Shellharbour, Boyd’s Jones, Bombo and Werri Beach. The same level of compliance was measured in the 2004-2005 summer season.
Austinmer, Thirroul and Surf Beach (Kiama) are monitored for faecal coliforms only (see page 18 for details) and recorded 100% compliance for this indicator.
Overall, the Illawarra beaches performed very well for faecal coliforms, with all but one location (Lake Illawarra Entrance) complying 100% of the time. A relatively high level of compliance was also recorded for enterococci, with only two locations complying less than 90% of the time. These were Corrimal Beach (84%) and Lake Illawarra Entrance (68%).
Details: Chapter 3 - Illawarra Region Beaches (PDF format, 888 KB)
Sydney metropolitan harbour and bay swimming sites
Fifty-one of the 59 harbour swimming sites complied 100% with Beachwatch criteria for faecal coliforms and enterococci during the 2005-2006 summer season. This is not only a dramatic improvement on the results from the previous summer season (when only 18 of the 59 beaches complied 100%), but the highest level of compliance ever recorded for Sydney's harbour beaches. The previous highest result was obtained in summer 2003-2004 when 37 of the 59 beaches complied 100% of the time.
Harbour swimming sites that complied 100% of the time with both bacterial indicators during summer 2005-2006 were:
Pittwater - Barrenjoey Beach, Paradise Beach Baths, Clareville Beach, Winji Jimmi Bay, Bayview Baths, North Scotland Island, South Scotland Island, The Basin and Great Mackerel Beach
Sydney Harbour - Redleaf Pool, Rose Bay Beach, Nielsen Park, Parsley Bay, Watsons Bay, Forty Baskets Pool, Fairlight Beach, Manly Cove, Little Manly Cove, Gurney Crescent Baths, Northbridge Baths, Clontarf Pool, Chinamans Beach, Edwards Beach, Balmoral Baths, Tambourine Bay, Woodford Bay, Woolwich Baths, Cabarita Beach, Henley Baths, Chiswick Baths, Dawn Fraser Pool and Greenwich Baths
Lower Georges River - Jew Fish Bay Baths, Como Baths, Oatley Bay Baths, Carss Point Baths, Sandringham Baths and Dolls Point Baths
Botany Bay - Ramsgate Baths, Monterey Baths, Brighton le Sands Baths, Foreshores Beach, Yarra Bay, Frenchmans Bay, Congwong Bay and Silver Beach
Port Hacking - Gunnamatta Bay Baths, Lilli Pilli Baths, Gymea Bay Baths, Hordens Beach and Jibbon Beach.
Improvements in water quality from the 2004–2005 summer season were recorded at 40 swimming sites.
Decreases in compliance for one or both indicators were recorded at only three swimming sites; Hayes Street Beach, Little Sirius Cove and Clifton Gardens.
Details: Chapter 4 - Pittwater (PDF format, 571 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Sydney Harbour (PDF format, 1387 KB)
Details: Chapter 4 - Botany Bay, Georges River, Port Hacking (PDF format, 1219 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 2005-2006 in the following areas:
- NSW Government's Urban Stormwater Program
- Sydney Water's Stormwater Environmental Improvement Program
Sewage Treatment Plants
- Upgrades to Sydney's coastal sewage treatment plants
- Sydney Water's Illawarra Wastewater Strategy
Sydney Water's SewerFix Program
Sydney Water's Hotspots Program
Upgrades to the sewerage system in the Hunter
Details: Chapter 2 (PDF format, 76 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 samples 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, 174 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 2005-2006 a special study was undertaken in Darling Harbour.
Details: Chapter 6 (PDF format, 188 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, 362 KB)
The format and structure of Beachwatch and Harbourwatch State of the Beaches 2006-2007 may have been adapted for web delivery.
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 2007
This publication was printed on recycled paper.
Department of Environment and Climate Change 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 2006-2007 is copyright, however the Department of Environment and Climate Change 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