Beachwatch test the water quality of Sydney beaches to see if they are suitable for swimming. The program also partners with councils and wastewater managers for swimming sites along the NSW coast. Water samples are collected and tested for bacteria, which may suggest faecal pollution, and influence whether the beach is safe for swimming. The program started in 1989 due to sewage pollution washing up on Sydney beaches - there was literally poo on the beach... These days, water quality has greatly improved, largely due to new deep ocean outfalls for coastal sewage treatment plants, as well as improvements in wastewater and stormwater management. The major reason why a beach may be unsafe to swim these days is because of recent rainfall, which can bring stormwater and wastewater overflow. Beachwatch also provides weekly star ratings for beaches, and the annual State of the Beaches report.

Dr. Meredith Campey is the Beachwatch Program Manager, and I spoke to her about what Beachwatch does, its history, how they test and what they test for, and the various reasons a beach may be unsuitable for swimming.

You can receive Beachwatch updates on Facebook and Twitter, subscribe to their RSS feeds, or subscribe to daily pollution forecasts.

Songs in this episode - all licensed under a Creative Commons License

Episode image - licensed under a Creative Commons License: Yellow Bioman

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