2018 a great year for clean beaches

NSW’s beaches have returned one of their cleanest years in nearly a decade, according to the latest state-wide annual Beachwatch report.

Redhead Beach

“For the first time since 2010, 85 per cent of the state’s swimming sites are rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’, and there have been improvements across the board,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

“Estuarine swimming sites have never been this clean, with a record breaking 81 per cent listed as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

“In addition, a staggering 98 per cent of ocean beaches were shown to be clean and safe, as were four of the five ocean baths.

“More importantly, the number of swimming spots that lifted a grade (18) is higher than those that dropped (11), which is a significant achievement,” Ms Upton said.

The State of the Beaches report is an overview of water quality at swimming locations monitored by the Office of Environment and Heritage. Local councils and water authorities are responsible for their cleanliness.

Daily beach pollution forecasts are issued for Sydney ocean and harbour beaches and can be accessed from the Beachwatch website, email subscription, Twitter and Facebook.

There have also been some significant category improvements, Ms Upton said.

“The number of clean estuarine swimming sites rose by 8 percent (from 73 per cent last year to 81 per cent this year) and the number of clean lake and lagoon swimming sites rose from 43 to 45 per cent.

While these figures are welcome, they also show there is still work to be done, Ms Upton said.

“According to the report, coastal lakes, lagoons and estuarine swimming spots were adversely affected by heavy rainfall.

“There are also concerns about some Sydney Harbour beaches and the NSW Government is working with the relevant councils to develop a whole of Sydney Harbour coastal management program to achieve similar outcomes on a city-wide basis.

“Two Sydney Harbour beaches (Northbridge Baths and Gurney Crescent Baths) scored “fair” and 12 estuarine beaches in less well-flushed sections of estuaries were graded “poor”.

Some sites on the Central Coast scored poorly - while safe during dry weather, moderate rainfall caused some microbial levels to rise.


  • 90% of the 97 Sydney region swimming sites tested rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with improved water quality at seven sites and decreased scores at only four. Total score up one percent on last year.
  • 78% of the 18 North Coast swimming sites rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with two downgraded.
  • 84% of the 38 Hunter region swimming sites rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with improvements at seven sites
  • 53% of the 32 Central Coast sites rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ – a decline from the previous year due to changes in the monitoring program rather than water quality.
  • 100% of the 21 Illawarra beaches rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with improved water quality at one beach.
  • 100% of the 35 South Coast region sites rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with two sites showing decreased water quality.