Water quality investigations

Learn about research projects investigating pollutants at our beaches.

Microbial source-tracking in NSW coastal habitats – Report

A pilot project that successfully trialled new sampling techniques, to find out the source of microbial pollution at Terrigal Beach and Rose Bay Beach.

Our scientists worked with researchers from the Ocean Microbiology Group at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on a pilot sampling project at Terrigal Beach and Rose Bay Beach. The project used DNA techniques to find out if microbial pollution in the water came from human or other animals. The pilot project also looked at which drain systems had the largest concentrations of microbial pollution during dry and wet weather.

UTS wrote the report discussing how sampling was done, and the sources of microbial pollution at Terrigal Beach and Rose Bay Beach. The report confirms that pollution in Terrigal Bay is almost solely from sewage which is contaminating stormwater, particularly after rain. Similarly, pollution in Rose Bay was mostly from sewage during rainfall, however, there was a significant contribution from dogs. All sampling to date through this pilot project confirms Beachwatch's advice that the beaches are safe for swimming after 3 to 5 days following rain.

The findings from this report and ongoing studies will focus remediation efforts in the catchment to improve the quality of water at these beaches. We will be working closely with the Environmental Protection Authority, councils and local communities as we progress these studies.

The pilot project supports stage one of the NSW Government's $500,000 commitment to a Terrigal Water Quality Audit.