Maybe give this bay a miss if you want to take a dip
REGULAR swimmers at Shaws Bay probably don’t need a scientist to tell them the water quality in the bay isn’t great at the moment, but they now have proof anyhow.
Weekly monitoring of 13 swimming sites by Ballina Shire Council as part of the State Government’s Beachwatch program has resulted in Shaws Bay receiving a rating of 2 — or poor.
The ratings are based on the measurement of “enterococci colony-forming units per 100ml”, and the latest sampling was taken on Tuesday of this week.
The Beachwatch website says enterococci are “indicators of the presence of faecal material in water and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa”.
Lake Ainsworth at Lennox Head received the top rating of 4 ‒ or good ‒ along with Seven Mile Beach at Lennox and Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach.
Shaws Bay turned brown as dirty water caused by the recent flooding flowed down the Richmond River.
The Beachwatch website says “studies have shown a strong relationship between elevated levels of enterococci and illness rates in swimmers”.
“It’s important to note that enterococci doesn’t cause illness, but its presence means there’s sewage in the water and, therefore, possibly pathogens, which do cause illness.”
The website says the indicator organism is tested for sewage pollution “because: they are easily detectable by simple laboratory tests; they are generally not present in unpolluted waters; results are available relatively quickly.”
The Beachwatch program started in 1989 in response to community concern about sewage pollution washing up on Sydney’s beaches.
Next week’s Ballina Shire test results will be available at the Beachwatch website www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/ beaches/beachwatch-water-quality-program.