Two local residents have been raising the alarm that something is amiss at Timbara Creek Surfside and that they have suspected that the strong stench from the creek was POO. All the more convinced by the preliminary tests (Table 1. below) that revealed high faecal coliforms in samples taken Mr Sethi from Surfside contacted the EPA again saying that the very strong stench in the creek remained and was in proximity to the sewer pump station. This week he provided The Beagle with video footage of the creek highlighting a grey blackness in the water.
Table 1. The table above was provided to Mr Sethi summarising the results of the EPA’s water samples that were collected on the 18th of March 2017 comparing those results to the known quality of raw effluent in Batemans Bay. Mr Sethi was advised by the EPA, in context of the above 18/3/2017 results that: Bacterial levels will be elevated in a waterway such as Timbara Creek following a storm event as it is closed off to the ocean for extended periods during which time urban stormwater runoff will elevate bacterial levels up to 20,000 colony forming units per 100 millilitres following a storm event. Faecal coliform levels in sewage will be in the millions or tens of millions; By his own research Mr Sethi found that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines used for compliance assessment in the BPP Marine or estuarine waters are considered unsuitable for swimming if, for five samples taken at regular intervals over a period not exceeding one month: • the median faecal coliform density exceeds 150 cfu/100 mL; or • the second-highest faecal coliform density is equal to or greater than 600 cfu/mL; or • the geometric mean enterococci density exceeds 33 cfu/100 mL. These (NHMRC) guidelines figures, to Mr Sethi, were justification to ask why the creek and the beach were open for swimming without warning signs displayed noting that the guideline figures were well below the counts reported in the EPA test result table above (Table 1.) Incensed that there the preliminary findings found evidence of counts of faecal coliforms greater than the guidelines for safe swimming and that Council and the EPA seemed to be nonplussed about warning beach goers and adjacent residents and visitors to the creek Mr Sethi wrote to the Beagle offering his concerns and including Beagle readers with his communications and updates. The most recent EPA results are now processed and the 27th April 2017 official EPA media release (below) in regards to the Surfside/Timbara testing is as follows: EPA confirms Surfside Beach water quality is good
Further tests taken at the Surfside Beach at Batemans Bay reveal that the water quality is good and meets safe swimming standards the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said today.
EPA Manager Regional Operations South East Nigel Sargent said the EPA undertook testing after heavy rain in early April.
“The EPA received a report of alleged sewage pollution after rain and undertook a vast range of water quality tests on 5 April,” Mr Sargent said.
“The EPA has now received the results of the sampling which confirm that the water quality is good at the Surfside Beach.
“The tests also showed no evidence of a sewage at either the Surfside Beach or the nearby Timbarra Creek.”
The EPA tested the water in Timbara Creek near the pumping station for commonly used indicators of human sewage - caffeine and trichlosan, found in toothpaste and antibacterial cleaning agents. All test results were zero, showing there was no sewage present.
Mr Sargent said some tests taken in stagnant water in Timbara Creek did show levels of bacteria were present, however this was not unexpected in stagnant water and in areas which receive stormwater runoff.
The EPA reminds people to avoid swimming during and immediately after heavy rain and near stormwater runoff areas as stormwater can contain a range pollutants, bacteria and sediment washed in from the catchment.
The EPA also tested the sediment in Timbara Creek and found that it had a high organic carbon and high sulphide content due to the breakdown of organic matter, such as leaves. This is a natural process that leads to the release of hydrogen sulphide which can give a strong smell, similar to rotten eggs.
For more information about beach water quality visit the Beachwatch website www.environment.nsw.gov.au/beach/
The EPA encourages people to report suspected water pollution incidents to the Environment Line on 131 555.