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Are Elevated Enterococci warning signs required for summer visitors to SURF BEACH?

Is Eurobodalla Council downplaying the POOR score that saw Surf Beach in the bottom three ocean beaches in the State? Read their website and they call it FAIR. But they are using their own scale and not comparing oranges with oranges. Should there be a duty of care to be open and transparent with visitors to Surf Beach this summer and erect signs that inform them of the Beach Watch rating of POOR that Surf Beach has received two years in a row. In light of the recently published annual Beach Watch report and the POOR rating for Surf Beach, Eurobodalla Council’s environmental services manager Deb Lenson said of the result “We will be undertaking additional testing throughout the summer at Denhams Beach, Wimbie Beach and the Surf Beach Creek to try and ascertain the source of contamination at Surf Beach,” Council's own website is a good place to start with the current rating (April 2020) suggesting bacterial levels indicate an increased risk of illness to bathers, particularly those with lower immune function such as the elderly and young children and that: Potential pollution sources and catchment use

  • urban stormwater

  • reticulated sewerage system and pump stations

  • landfill leachate

  • Wimbie and Surf Beach creeks

  • sewer treatment plant outfall.

Pollution - mode of impact

  • via intermittently flowing creek with low volume discharge (+ SW drainage pipe on north end)

  • public toilet on beach reserve

  • intermittently flowing creek (low volume)

  • remote effective ocean outfall

  • pollution from vessels at sea.

In 2018–2019 and in 2019-2020 Surf Beach remains one of only three ocean beaches categorised as Poor in NSW. The latest annual BeachWatch report says a POOR Rating: Location is susceptible to faecal pollution and microbial water quality is not always suitable for swimming. During dry weather conditions, ensure that the swimming location is free of signs of pollution, such as discoloured water, odour or debris in the water, and avoid swimming at all times during and for up to three days following rainfall This rating of POOR might come as confusing to someone looking at Council's website that rates the same beach FAIR. The latest result on Council's website for Surf Beach is dated 27 April 2020 The result is as follows: Rating FAIR.

In order to understand that rating you need to look at their rating chart:

The Beachwatch program however, has a different scale to Council and certainly doesn't have a BAD rating. Council does tells us on their website: The Beachwatch Program, in partnership with NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, is undertaken every year from the start of November to the end of March, with five samples collected each month from 11 popular beaches. If that is the case then why don't they use the same scale? Council calls Surf Beach as FAIR while Beachwatch rates it POOR. These descriptions do matter. If you were a swimmer, a parent, a tourist unfamiliar with the cleanliness of Surf Beach and were informed it was FAIR you might consider a swim however if you knew the beach was rated POOR with the clear description, as provided by BeachWatch, you might think differently. bacterial levels indicate an increased risk of illness to bathers, particularly those with lower immune function such as the elderly and young children. compared to: Location is susceptible to faecal pollution and microbial water quality is not always suitable for swimming. During dry weather conditions, ensure that the swimming location is free of signs of pollution, such as discoloured water, odour or debris in the water, and avoid swimming at all times during and for up to three days following rainfall

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