Daily water quality checks go online

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THE Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has started its summer water quality tests at Mornington Peninsula and Frankston beaches.

The forecasts over the next four months will cover eight peninsula beaches and four at Frankston.

EPA chief environmental scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood said last year’s forecasts for peninsula illustrated how conditions could vary from beach to beach.

“Last season, good water quality was forecast for Sorrento beach 81 per cent of time – the second highest score [out of 36 beaches in Port Phillip],” she said.

“But a few kilometres away, Rye beach had forecasted good water quality 72 per cent of the time – among the lowest scores.

“Many different things, like recent rainfall, stormwater drains and the nature of the beach, contribute to water quality.”

The EPA yesterday (Monday) rated water quality on 10 peninsula beaches as being poor and fair after a weekend of mixed weather conditions which included high temperatures (30 degrees) and strong northerly winds on Saturday with rain and south westerlies on Sunday.

Conditions at Portsea, Sorrento, Rosebud, Safety Beach, and Mt Martha were fair, while beach goers at Blairgowrie, Rye, Dromana, Mornington and Canadian Bay were rated poor.

Dr Hinwood said rainfall was a risk to water quality because it washed substances like oils and detergents, and litter and dog poo into the stormwater system, which then discharged into the bay.

“A good day at the beach isn’t just about a sunny day, you should also be checking for good water quality to reduce your risk of getting sick from water-borne pathogens,” she said.

“Children, the elderly and people with vulnerable immune systems have the highest risk for getting ill from water-borne pathogens which is why we’re calling on parents to ‘make sure it’s ok, check Yarra and Bay’.”

On yarraandbay.vic.gov.au beaches are rated as Good, Fair or Poor. On Fair days, people should check for signs of pollution, such as discoloured water, odour, rubbish and stormwater drains flowing, before deciding whether or not to swim. On Poor days, the water quality is not suitable for swimming.

“EPA’s ongoing advice is to avoid swimming for up to 48 hours after heavy rain as in that time there may be a higher risk of illness from increased bacterial levels,” Dr Hinwood said.

“But we know Melbourne’s weather can go from stormy to sunny very quickly so the Yarra and bay report will provide more localised and timely information to ensure people can safely enjoy as many beach days as they want this summer.”

The twice-daily water quality forecasts will be published online at yarraandbay.vic.gov.au.

Based on water quality forecasts for 1 December 2017 – 12 March 2018:

Sorrento had 81 per cent Good days; Safety Beach – 81 per cent Good days; Portsea – 80 per cent Good days; Rosebud – 80 per cent Good days; Blairgowrie – 78 per cent Good days; Dromana – 75 per cent Good days; Canadian Bay – 71.5 per cent Good days; Rye – 72 per cent Good days.

Two locations at Frankston recorded 71.5 per cent Good days; Carrum – 77 per cent Good days; and Seaford – 73 per cent Good days.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 4 December 2018

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