A HUNTER swimming spot has been rated poor in a report card from the state government's environment department based on water quality.
Bagnalls beach at Port Stephens scored 69 on the region's report card from the Department of Environment, Energy and Science in its latest report on the health of the stretches for swimming.
That lands it in the Poor category, the second-lowest rating.
The report notes that Bagnalls' grade denotes "microbial water quality is susceptible to faecal pollution, particularly after rainfall and occasionally during dry weather conditions".
It said levels of enterococci, a bacteria found in faeces and rarely present in unpolluted waters, increased after rain and "often exceeding the safe swimming limit in response to little or no rainfall".
Swimmers in Poor-rated areas are urged to ensure the water is not discoloured, odorous of containing debris.
The report also urges they avoid swimming during and for up to three days after it rains.
While ocean beaches in the region landed in the top category, estuarine swimming spots in Port Stephens were less pristine.
Dutchmans, Georges Reserve, and Little beaches as well as Lemon Tree Passage and Karuah tidal pools were ranked good, two tiers above Bagnalls.
The survey includes Stockton beach, where erosion has become a major flashpoint as the suburb lobbies for a solution to bring back the beach's sand yet water quality remains in the top tier.
Newcastle City Council's 100 per cent success rate continues a streak that began in the survey released in 2016, while Port Stephens matched its 91 per cent performance from last year.
Beaches named as the region's best include Zenith, Box, One Mile, Birubi, South Stockton, Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar, Merewether, Burwood North, Burwood South, Glenrock Lagoon, Dudley, Blacksmiths and Caves beaches.
At Lake Macquarie, all sites were rated as Good or Very Good. That figure is up from the previous gradings' 75 per cent.
The report attributes the change to monitoring alterations, with 14 sites no longer monitored.
Hunter Water has monitored recreational water quality in the region since 1996 under environment protection licences. Port Stephens Council has also conducted monitoring since 2004.
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