Melbourne’s La Nina summer has not had quite the effect on recreational water users that was expected, at least, so far this summer.
Rainfall in December was below average at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) rain gauges used by Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) annual summer Beach Report and Yarra Watch service to forecast water quality.
Best performing beaches were on the Mornington Peninsula, south and to the east of the city.
Portarlington and Carrum had the least number of ‘Good’ forecasts due to beach renourishment and construction work at Portarlington safe harbour, and dredging of the Paterson River mouth.
On the Yarra River, EPA monitors water quality at four popular swimming sites: Launching Place, Healesville, Warrandyte and Kew. Only Warrandyte was achieved ‘Good’ forecasts (81 per cent in December 2021) Other sites did not receive a forecast better than ‘Poor’ as they have background E. coli levels (a microbial water quality health risk indicator) close to the E. coli standard for primary contact (e.g., swimming) as stated in the Environment Reference Standard 2021.
A ‘Poor’ forecast indicates that microbial water quality may not be suitable for swimming and there could be an increased risk of illness for swimmers. EPA has worked with Parks Victoria; Manningham, and Yarra Ranges Council; and the Department of Health to ensure there are signs at sites in these reaches to minimise this public health risk.
“We expected greater rainfall for the predicted La Nina weather pattern but so far at least, that hasn’t been the case at the BOM rain gauges the EPA uses to forecast water quality in the Bay,” said Darren Cottam, EPA Science.
“Swimming when water quality is poor can lead to illnesses such as gastroenteritis or uncomfortable skin rashes, but a few simple precautions will reduce those risks.”
The advice for healthy swimming at Bay beaches or in the Yarra is:
o Before swimming, check current water quality at https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/summer-water-quality
o Avoid swimming near stormwater drains
o Avoid swimming for 48 hours after rain
o Try not to swallow water during recreation
o Cover cuts and scratches with waterproof bandages
o Shower with soap after swimming.
EPA publishes the summer Beach Report and Yarra Watch each year from 1 December to the Labour Day weekend in March the following year.
Beach rankings and number of ‘Good’ forecasts based on December 2021 water quality forecasts.
|Beach||Ranking for Dec 2021||Number of Good forcasts|
|Mt Martha Life Saving Club||1||29|
|Rosebud Life Saving Club||3||28|
|Mornington Life Saving Club||5||26|
|Black Rock Life Saving Club||7||26|
|Half Moon Bay||7||26|
|Brighton Life Saving CLub||13||26|
|Frankston Coast Guard||16||24|
|Aspendale Life Saving Club||16||24|
|South Melbourne Life Saving Club||29||22|
|Carrum Surf Life Saving Club||36||12|