NEWCASTLE is home to some of the most pristine beaches in the state but parts of Lake Macquarie are among our most polluted waterways, especially after rainfall, an annual report has revealed.
Swimmers should avoid Swansea, Kilaben Bay, Bolton Point and Speers Point Park for up to three days after rainfall because of poor water quality while Eleebana should be avoided altogether because of elevated levels of the bacteria enterococci, which indicates the presence of faeces.
The data is contained in the latest State of the Beaches annual report, released on Sunday, which places Newcastle’s beaches among the cleanest in the state with good or very good water quality.
An analysis for Hunter Water shows the region’s beaches have predominantly rated better than those of the Illawarra and Sydney for water quality over the past 15 years since weekly monitoring began.
However, the report advises that the area near the Lions Park at Eleebana should be avoided in both dry and wet weather because of the ‘‘unpredictable nature of the contamination’’.
Port Stephens recorded a decline in water quality at some sites.
All five ocean beaches were graded as very good.
Dutchmans Beach, Lemon Tree Passage Tidal Pool and Karuah Tidal Pool were graded as good, but are to be avoided after heavy rainfall.
Bagnalls Beach and Georges Reserve were ‘‘poor’’ because of impacts from nearby stormwater drains and elevated levels of enterococci detected following light rainfall.
Overall, 18 swimming spots in the region received the top rating of ‘‘very good’’ and 17 were graded ‘‘good’’.
“The State of the Beaches report has confirmed what we all know, that we have some of the most beautiful swimming beaches in the world, right here in the Hunter,” Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker said.
Hunter Water chief operating officer Darren Cleary said the results reflected technology improvements at wastewater treatment plants.
‘‘Our beach water quality is already the best in the state. It’s going to get even cleaner when Hunter Water installs a $20million disinfection system at the Burwood Beach Wastewater Plant over the next few years,’’ he said.
■ BEACHWATCH daily pollution predictions will be extended to include Newcastle’s beaches for the first time this summer.
‘‘From next weekend local advice will also be available through Twitter and an email subscription service, making it even easier for swimmers and beachgoers to find out about water quality at their local beach,’’ Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker said.
To view the predictions on the web visit environment.nsw.gov.au/beach. Follow them on Twitter @BeachwatchNSW. You can report pollution by phoning 131555.