Since 2002, Central Coast Council has worked in partnership with the Office of Environment and Heritage to undertake the Beachwatch water quality monitoring program for the Central Coast. The program provides regular and reliable information to enable local residents and visitors of the Central Coast to make informed decisions about where and when to swim.
Council monitors and reports on the water quality of 32 swimming sites, including 15 ocean beaches, three ocean baths/rock pools, four coastal lagoons, four estuarine netted baths and six lake netted baths. Samples are collected and tested for Enterococci, which are a group of bacteria common to the faecal matter of warm blooded animals. These bacteria indicate stormwater and/or sewage contamination. The test results are used to determine if the site is suitable for swimming.
Results of Beachwatch monitoring are updated on the Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Beachwatch websites during the summer swimming season, providing up to date information for residents and visitors on water quality and whether to avoid swimming at certain locations and/or times. Results inform the annual State of the Beaches Report, which is published by the NSW Government.
The following provides a more detailed explanation of the rating system:
|Green||Good - Bacterial levels are safe for bathing according to National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.|
|Yellow||Fair - Bacterial levels indicate an increased risk of illness to bathers, particularly those with lower immune function such as the elderly and young children.|
|Orange||Poor - Bacterial levels indicate a substantially increased risk of illness to bathers. Swimming is not recommended at this site.|
|Red||Bad - Bacterial levels indicate a high risk of illness to bathers. It is recommended to avoid swimming at this site.|
Daily prediction modelling
Want to know if your beach is safe to swim today? As a result of many years of water quality data collected by Council, in conjunction with looking at recent rain data, Beachwatch can provide daily pollution forecasts. For more information and to subscribe to daily feeds, find your beach under Central Coast Beaches on the Beachwatch website.
General precautions to ensure safe for swimming
Some of the Central Coast's swimming sites experience stormwater pollution, particularly after rain. Council recommends that people avoid swimming for at least one day after rain at ocean beaches and for up to three days after rain at lagoon/lake and estuarine sites. Swimming is not recommended near stormwater drains or where there are obvious signs of pollution such as litter, discoloured water, odours and surface scums (oil and foam).
Water quality management
Permanent swimming advisory signs are located at swimming sites that may experience poor water quality following rainfall. These signs read:
This area can be affected by stormwater pollution for up to three days following heavy rain. Swimming during this period is not recommended.
During periods of poor water quality, Council installs additional temporary swimming advisory signs or closes the site until water quality improves. Council lifeguards and surf life saving clubs are kept informed about local water quality and any issues relating to the health and safety of swimmers.