Beachwatch water quality program

Discover why the Beachwatch monitoring program was started, who we are and what we do.

Our monitoring program started in 1989 in response to community concern about sewage pollution washing up on Sydney’s beaches. At that time, more than one billion litres of sewage was discharged to the ocean daily. Beach goers often came into contact with sewage pollution when they were swimming.

Beachwatch has been helping the community make informed decisions about where and when to swim for over 30 years. During this time, Beachwatch has grown from Sydney’s ocean beaches and estuaries to swimming sites in regional areas along the NSW coast, in partnership with coastal councils. Beachwatch is now moving to the next phase to expand existing coast-based Beachwatch program to a statewide partnership program to support local councils to monitor their swim sites and provide high-quality data and information on water quality for communities across New South Wales.

What we do

Beachwatch supports councils to monitor and report on recreational water quality at swim sites in New South Wales. Water samples are collected and tested for bacteria to provide information on the level of sewage and stormwater pollution at beaches, and whether it is safe for swimming.

Use our map to see these monitored sites.

Our program provides regular and reliable beach water quality information to help people decide when and where to swim. Our daily pollution forecasts provide the latest recreational water quality conditions across Sydney, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra swim-sites. For each monitored swimming site, we also provide the latest water quality results (weekly star ratings) and annual beach grades which are reported each year in the State of the Beaches report.

Our routine water quality monitoring measures the impact of pollution sources at swimming sites over time. This enables the effectiveness of stormwater and wastewater management to be assessed, and highlights areas where further work is needed.