Beach water quality guidelines

We follow national water quality guidelines to ensure that it’s safe to swim at your local beach.

To determine whether water quality is safe for swimming, Beachwatch uses the National Health and Medical Research Council's Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters  (NHMRC 2008).

The NHMRC released guidelines for recreational water quality in February 2008. These guidelines represent a major revision of the previous NHMRC 1990 guidelines. In particular, the new guidelines include a preventative approach to the management of recreational water through local assessment and management of hazards and of factors that may lead to hazards.

This approach requires information on the local factors that may affect recreational water quality (sanitary inspections), as well as numerical information on the level of contaminants (microbial assessment). The results can be used to:
  • classify beaches to support informed personal choice
  • provide on-site guidance to users on the relative safety of the water
  • assist in identifying and promoting effective management actions
  • provide a basis for regulatory requirements, and for an assessment of how well these requirements were met.

The guidelines can be downloaded from the National Health and Medical Research Council website.

Beachwatch adopted the NHMRC 2008 guidelines from 1 May 2009, and they were rolled out to local councils for the 2009–10 summer swimming season.