Council testing water quality of local beaches over Summer

The water quality of Coffs Coast beaches is being monitored this summer, with testing results available on the NSW Government Beachwatch program website. Photo: Emma Darbin.


THE water quality of Coffs beautiful beaches is being monitored by Coffs Harbour City Council this summer as part of a Statewide Beachwatch program.

Staff from the Coffs Harbour City Council laboratory have begun extracting water samples from eight beaches from Safety Beach in the north to Sawtell in the south, testing water quality at each site.

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These sites include Sawtell Rock Pool, Jetty Beach, Diggers Beach, Emerald Beach, Safety Beach, Park Beach, Sawtell Beach and Woolgoolga Main Beach.

The testing is part of the NSW Government Beachwatch water quality program which commenced in the region last month and will continue until the end of March next year, during the peak swimming period for the region.

Coffs Harbour City Council lab staff said the testing will provide an indication of what the swimming quality of local beaches is like, through the monitoring of pollution levels in the water.

Once laboratory staff test the water samples, through a technique called ‘membrane filtration’, the test results are forwarded to the Beachwatch website for members of the public to view and decide where they want to swim at.

“Getting it on to the website allows people to go to the website and choose whether they want to swim in a specific location,” Coffs Harbour City Council Laboratory Technical Supervisor Shane Ewart said.

“It just gives people a choice in where they want to swim.

“If we’ve got significantly high (bacteria) levels it may warrant investigation.”

Woolgoolga Lake Working Group (WLWG) is also involved in the program, and students from Woolgoolga High School are looking to become involved in the collection and testing of water samples at the high school’s labs next year.

WLWG currently already tests water quality in the Woolgoolga Lake catchment area on a monthly basis and these test results are placed on the NSW Waterwatch website.

Local data for the Beachwatch program is also being collected on the clarity of the water and how many swimmers are in the water, and testing is being carried out on a weekly basis.

“Over the next six months we will probably get a pretty clear indication on how clean the beaches will be,” Mr Ewart said.

High bacteria counts are often found in water samples following periods of high rainfall.

The NSW Government Beachwatch water quality program started in 1989 in response to community concern about sewage pollution washing up on Sydney’s beaches.

Water samples are collected and tested for bacteria, showing signs of faecal pollution, and whether it is safe for swimming.

Water testing results including recent star ratings of local beaches can be found on the Beachwatch water quality program website at




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