Beachwatch Monitoring

Ballina’s coastline is significant to the shire and promotes cultural, economic, environmental and recreational activities. The Ballina coast line stretch from Seven Mile Beach, Lennox to Patches Beach (near Wardell).

Poor water quality in waterways can cause concerns for human health. That is why for over a decade the Council has been involved in the Beachwatch Partnership Program with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) which monitors and reports on recreational water quality.

The Program aims to provide regular and reliable information on recreational water quality to enable the community to make informed decisions about where and when to swim. Currently Council monitors water quality weekly and at following sites:

Swimming sites are monitored from November to February each year:

  • Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head
  • Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head
  • Shelly Beach, Ballina
  • Lighthouse Beach, Ballina
  • Shaws Bay, Ballina
  • The Serpentine, Ballina

Weekly star ratings

Star ratings are generated weekly for each site based on the most recent sampling event.

Health risk

Contamination of recreational waters with faecal material from animal and human sources can pose significant health problems to recreational water users.   

Exposure to contaminated water can cause gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach-ache, nausea, headache and fever. Eye, ear, skin and upper respiratory tract infections can be contracted when pathogens come into contact with small breaks and tears in the skin and/ or ruptures in the ear or nose.

Certain users may be more susceptible to becoming ill including children, elderly, people with compromised immune systems, tourists, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Beachwatch Partnership Program (BPP) and Wet Weather Monitoring Program (WWMP)

The Council has been involved in BPP since 2004. Please refer to the reports below for further information on specific water quality at sites within the Shire and the commencement of the BPP and WWMP

What is required of Council?

  • select the sites they wish to monitor
  • collect routine water quality samples
  • analyse water quality samples
  • undertake sanitary inspections
  • provide Beachwatch with water quality data and sanitary inspections

What is required of Beachwatch?

  • advice on program design
  • quality assurance of sampling
  • quality assurance of analysis
  • advice and assistance with sanitary inspections
  • preparation of weekly star ratings
  • preparation of draft media releases
  • publication of State of the Beaches reports
  • training and provision of support materials

Recreational water quality guidelines

In May 2009, new guidelines were introduced focusing on the assessment and management of hazards to minimise health risks. Under the new guidelines water quality is reported as Beach Suitability Grades.

Quality assurance

To ensure that data collected under the Beachwatch Program is accurate and reliable, quality assurance of field sampling, laboratory analysis, data management and community reporting is undertaken.

Water Pollution and Treatment

Water quality is primarily affected by pollution and land management practices. The links below provide information on better management of water pollution from these sources.

How to improve water quality

  • Avoid discharging contaminants into the storm water system or natural water bodies, eg oil, pesticides, herbicides, fertiliser, paint, chemicals, roof cleaning or nutrient runoff.
  • Make sure on site sewerage systems (eg septic tanks) in good working condition and do not release waste water into the environment. 
  • Pick up your pet’s faecal matter and place in a bin or dispose appropriately.
  • Follow the instructions and warning signs provided at waterbodies.

Further Information

Development and Environmental Health Group, Ph 02 6686 1210.

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