Only 50 percent of recreational swimming sites are graded very good or good

Soldiers Beach at Norah Head

The ocean beaches and The Entrance ocean baths are the best swimming spots along the northern coastline in terms of water quality according to the latest State of the Beaches report.
Results in the report show that 50 percent of recreational swimming sites across the Central Coast are graded very good or good, but steer clear of the lakes and lagoons.
The report summarises the performance of 32 swimming sites on the Coast including 15 ocean beaches, four estuarine areas in Brisbane Water, 10 lake swimming areas including Lake Macquarie, Lake Munmorah, Tuggerah Lake and coastal lagoons at Wamberal, Terrigal, Avoca and Cockrone, as well as three ocean baths at The Entrance, Cabbage Tree Bay (Norah Head) and Pearl Beach.
Sixteen of that 32 were graded as very good or good, even though this is an overall decline in performance from the previous year.
It was a good report card for the ocean beaches and baths, but the estuary and lake swimming sites let down the overall result because of rain related pollution from stormwater runoff or the impact of reduced dilution and flushing.
Lakes Beach (Budgewoi), Soldiers Beach (Norah Head), North Entrance Beach, The Entrance Beach and Shelly Beach all received a good rating, while Toowoon Bay slipped down the ladder from good last year to poor this year.
Six lake swimming sites in the northern area were graded as poor – Gwandalan, Summerland Point, Chain Valley Bay and Mannering Park on Lake Macquarie, as well as Lake Munmorah and Canton Beach in the Tuggerah Lakes system.
Summerland Point was downgraded from good the previous year.
Two of the three ocean baths retained their good rating, The Entrance Ocean Baths and Pearl Beach Rockpool, but Cabbage Tree Bay Rockpool only managed a poor rating.
The Entrance ocean baths are cleaned regularly year round by Council, while Cabbage Tree Bay and Pearl Beach rockpool depend on the natural flushing of ocean water.
MacMasters and Killcare beaches retained a very good rating, making them the best beaches on the coast for water quality.
Recreational water quality has been monitored in the Central Coast region since 2002 under the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Beachwatch program.
Council’s Acting Director Environment and Planning, Brett Sherar, said the results allowed Council to pinpoint areas for improvement.
“Two additional catchment audits, similar to the one in Terrigal, are already underway in response to the poor rating at Toowoon Bay and Cabbage Tree Bay rockpool,” he said.
“These audits will allow us to understand where any pollution may be coming from and to make improvements to ensure water quality in these areas improve in the future.
“Despite improvements within the estuarine sites, we acknowledge that these sites also fall within the poor category.
“Due to the nature of water movement in our estuaries, these sites are not as well flushed as the ocean beaches, meaning that the time taken to recover, especially after rainfall, is longer than for open ocean beaches,” Sherar said.
In February, the NSW Government committed $200,000 to establish an expert panel to determine the best way to improve water quality in Tuggerah Lakes.
This panel will consider all existing information and audit current management actions and their effectiveness to inform and support the development of a coastal management program for Tuggerah Lakes.

Report, Sept 25
State of the beaches 2018-19
NSW Dept Planning, Industry, Environment
Media release, Oct 9
Central Coast Council
Journalist, Sue Murray

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