Most water quality forecasts for Port Phillip Bay beaches over summer were ‘Good’ to ‘Fair’, according to Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) 2021–22 summer Beach Report and Yarra Watch service.
The service gives Bay and Yarra users twice daily information about the forecast water quality at 36 bay beaches and four popular swimming sites along the Yarra from December to Labour Day each summer.
Ranked by the number of ‘Good’ forecasts, the swimming spots with the best record for the summer were the beaches at Portsea and the Mt Martha Life Saving Club.
The beaches with the most forecasts of ‘Good’ water quality over summer were on the Mornington Peninsula and beaches between Brighton and Black Rock Beaches, including Hampton, Sandringham, and Half Moon Bay. These beaches are less susceptible to stormwater pollution after rain, or had less rainfall than other beaches.
Warrandyte was the best ranked site on the Yarra, with a ‘Good’ forecast issued on 70% of days during summer.
Stormwater pollution after rain from large drains and rivers nearby was the most common cause of ‘Fair’ and ‘Poor’ forecasts issued over the summer.
“Heavy rain after dry weather can carry a large amount of pollution washed from surrounding areas into stormwater drains and waterways, including the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay,” said EPA Program Coordinator – Water, Darren Cottam.
“High bacterial levels can cause stomach upsets, and vulnerable groups including children, the elderly and people with vulnerable immune systems are more likely to become ill, or get more severe illness from water-borne pathogens.
“Anyone experiencing swimming-related illness should seek advice from their doctor. When the forecast is for ‘Poor’ water quality, EPA advises against swimming and alerts the public through our online and social media services, or via the free SMS alert service.”
“EPA’s SMS alerts went to more than 15,000 people who registered via their mobile phones this season,” he said.
“The service has become extremely popular and will return for summer 2022-23.”
Factors that affect water quality include proximity to storm water drains, river and creek outflows and activity like dredging.
EPA PLANS EXTENDED SEASON FOR 2022/23
EPA plans to extend the monitoring season for the Yarra and Bay beaches in the coming summer.
The decision is in response to requests from members of the public, and dates will be chosen by the Water Quality team after public consultation to be conducted later this year.
Beach rankings and percentage of ‘Good’ forecasts for 2021-2022
1 – Portsea and Mt Martha Life Saving Club (80%)
3 – Rosebud Life Saving Club (79%)
4 – Sorrento (78%)
5 – Santa Casa (76%)
6 – Black Rock Life Saving Club, Half Moon Bay and Brighton Life Saving Club (75%)
9 – Sandringham (74%)
10 – Mornington Life Saving Club and Hampton (73%)
12 – Blairgowrie, Dromana, Safety Beach, Canadian Bay and Williamstown (72%)
17 – Rye and St Leonards (71%)
19 – Eastern (70%)
20 – The Dell (68%)
21 – Frankston Coast Guard, Seaford, Aspendale Life Saving Club, Mordialloc, Mentone and Portarlington (67%)
27 – Frankston Surf Life Saving Club, Beaumaris and Altona (66%)
30 – Elwood, South Melbourne Life Saving Club, Port Melbourne and Sandridge (64%)
34 – Werribee South (61%)
35 – Carrum Surf Life Saving Club (60%)
36 – St Kilda (59%)
For comparative rankings in past years, see last year’s media release: epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/bay-beaches-best-and-worst
EPA forecasts are based on rain, water quality history, sunlight, weekly sampling/testing, and pollution reports. For more information on how forecasts are calculated, see the EPA website: epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/summer-water-quality/beach-report
Reviewed 5 May 2022