New beach water quality ratings

Blackmans Bay Beach

Blackmans Bay Beach

Today the Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) released their long-term water quality ratings for greater Hobart’s beaches and bays.

The Beach Watch program has been a cooperative effort between six local councils, the EPA, the Department of Health and the DEP for 20 years to inform the public of beach water quality.

Water quality is tested at 35 beaches and bays between New Norfolk and Kingborough each week between December and March. Water samples are analysed for specific bacteria (enterococci) which indicate the presence of contaminants from stormwater run-off and other sources. Each site is classified as having Good, Fair or Poor water quality in accordance with state and national guidelines, based on five years of data.

The 2018/19 season was unusual with high numbers of samples returning large enterococci counts. Analysis of the season’s results revealed good and bad news for the long-term water quality ratings.

The good news is that water quality at:

  • Nutgrove Beach (West) has improved going from ‘Poor’ to ‘Fair’;
  • There are no new Poor rated beaches; and
  • Watermans Dock moved from ‘Poor’ to ‘Good’

The bad news:

  • Three beaches moved from ‘Good’ to ‘Fair’ including Howrah, Nutgrove East and Blackmans Bay mid;
  • Blackmans Bay south remains ‘Poor’ and;
  • Enteroccoci levels at some environmental sites including Marieville Esplanade, Browns River and Hobart Rivulet have increased,” said Ms Taylor.

The mixed results indicate there is work to do in managing pollution, however managers are buoyed by the result at Nutgrove Beach (west) which is now open to swimming. The great result at Nutgrove Beach came about through the cooperation of staff at the City of Hobart and TasWater. Engineers and Environmental Health Officers at Council have used modelling and dyes to locate and rectify contamination sources and this has led to improved water quality. A methodical approach to finding the source of contamination was needed and in this case it has worked. TasWater used the information from council staff and their own CCTV investigations and fixed aging sewer pipes and incorrectly connected infrastructure at residential sites.

Intensive investigations at Blackmans Bay and Kingston Beaches by Kingborough Council and TasWater has seen a number of trials and issues rectified and work will continue to ensure the water quality once again is suitable for swimming.

Further details can be found in the Recreational Water Quality Program Annual Report - 2018-19

Thursday 13 June 2019