BEACHES along the Hunter coast have been rated among the state's best for water quality in an annual state government assessment.
The latest State of the Beaches report, produced out of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's monitoring program Beachwatch, graded all 17 beaches along our coast as 'good' or 'very good'.
The ratings indicate the beaches were suitable for swimming most or almost all of the time in 2020/21.
In Newcastle, five of the seven beaches were rated very good, including South Stockton, Nobbys, Newcastle, Bar and Burwood North. Merewether and Burwood South were graded good.
In Lake Macquarie, Dudley, Redhead, Blacksmiths and Caves Beach were very good. The beach at Glenrock Lagoon was graded good.
Swansea Heads Little Beach was the only beach in the region to move up grades. It was good but had previously been rated poor.
In Port Stephens, all four beaches monitored - Zenith, Box, Fingal and One Mile - were rated very good.
"It's great to see these positive scores, which reflect ongoing efforts towards the preservation and improvement of swimming sites along our coast," Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary said on Tuesday.
"Our quality assurance programs, which maintain and monitor water quality across our region, contribute to Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens achieving their excellent gradings.
"We will continue to work with local councils and state agencies to protect and improve the quality of our waterways."
Hunter Water monitors the 17 beaches weekly.
Across NSW, 179 of 210 swimming sites were graded as good or very good. Furthermore:
- 98 per cent of the 118 ocean beaches monitored were 'good' or 'very good';
- 77 per cent of 71 estuarine swimming sites were 'good' or 'very good';
- 24 per cent of 17 lake/lagoon swimming sites were 'good' or 'very good';
- All four ocean baths were graded as 'good'.
On the Central Coast, a number of lake or lagoon swimming sites maintained poor ratings. These included four on Lake Macquarie, at Gwandalan, Summerland Point, Chain Valley Bay and Mannering Park, as well as Lake Munmorah and Canton Beach on Tuggerah Lake.
"Rainfall is the major driver of pollution in recreational waters as it generates stormwater runoff and triggers discharges from the wastewater system," Water Minister Melinda Pavey said.
"That's why we encourage swimmers to jump online to the Beachwatch website before they jump in the water this swimming season to check the daily pollution forecast particularly after rainfall."
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