Map pins are available via the tab key in a list after the map.

You can pan the map with the keyboard arrows.

Map pins are available via the tab key in a list after the map.

You can move the map using the keyboard arrows.

Explore water quality across Victorian beaches

EPA forecasts water quality for 36 beaches in Port Phillip Bay.

The forecasts predict the risk of stormwater pollution during and after rain. The forecast predictions are based on rain, water quality history, sunlight, regular sampling results, and pollution reports.

EPA also issues alerts when there is an issue affecting a water body in Victoria.

Beach Report season is now open. Always check for signs of pollution before you swim.

 

Avoid swimming near stormwater or river outlets 24-48 hours after heavy rain.  
Always check for signs of pollution before swimming. For example, stormwater drains flowing, murky water, bad smell, and rubbish. 

 

Water quality forecast key

  • Good

    Suitable for swimming

  • Fair

    May not be suitable for swimming

  • Poor

    Not suitable for swimming

  • Illegal

    City bylaws prevent swimming

View data in table format

Healthy swimming advice

For healthy swimming:

  • Avoid swimming near stormwater drains 
  • Avoid swimming for 48 hours after rain
  • Try not to swallow water during recreation 
  • Cover cuts and scratches with waterproof bandages
  • Wash your skin with soap after touching the water and shower after swimming.

Children, older people and people with a weakened immune system are most at risk of getting sick from polluted water. You should see your doctor if you suspect you are unwell from swimming.

EPA posts forecasts on this website, Twitter, and signs at lifesaving clubs (on weekends and public holidays).

Beach Report forecasts

Water quality forecasts are generated at 10 am and 3 pm each day. At 10am, the forecast predicts water quality between 10am and 3pm. At 3 pm, two forecasts are generated, an afternoon and next day forecast. An afternoon forecast predicts water quality between 3pm – 12 am and is displayed on the Beach Report map at this time. The next day forecast predicts water quality for the 24 hours from midnight, and updates on the map at 12 am.  

A preview of the forecast for the next day is available from 3pm. You can find this preview under the ‘tomorrow’ heading when you click on a forecast pin on the map.  

Next day forecasts reflect the most conservative rating of water quality for an entire day. If water quality is likely to be Fair or Poor at any time that day, that is what our next day forecast will show. For example, water quality could be Good in the morning, but turning Poor in the evening due to rain. In this case, our next day forecast would show Poor for the entire day.  

Water quality can change with weather conditions such as significant rainfall. Check the Bureau of Meteorology website for the latest weather conditions before you swim.  

Always look for signs of poor water quality before you swim. Signs of Poor water quality includes water which is discoloured, murky or smells unpleasant. 

Recreational water use

There are two kinds of recreational water activity:

  • Primary contact recreation, where you are in direct contact with the water, can be fully immersed and could swallow water. This includes swimming, surfing, water skiing, and diving.
  • Secondary contact recreation, where you have direct contact with the water but are unlikely to swallow it. This includes paddling, wading, boating and fishing.

EPA water quality forecasts of Good, Fair and Poor are for primary contact recreation. Secondary contact with the water poses a reduced risk of illness as you are less likely to ingest the water. EPA long term water quality monitoring shows our microbial indicators only very rarely exceed secondary contact criteria.

Forecast ratings

The table below provides a detailed explanation of forecasts and ratings.

Forecast reason and action/advice for each type of forecast rating
Forecast Forecast reason  Action/advice
Good No recent or forecast rain, stormwater pollution unlikely Suitable for swimming
Fair Reason 1: Low level rain or showers are forecast Has it rained yet? Check the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) or Melbourne Water rain gauges near your beach, or BOM forecast to see when rain is due.
Fair Reason 2: There has been a small amount of rain or showers, causing risk of stormwater pollution at beaches Check for signs of pollution – drains flowing, murky water, bad smell, rubbish on water’s edge.
Fair Reason 3: There may be a water quality alert for your beach Check the forecast by clicking on pin on Beach Report map or go to water quality alert.
Poor Recent or forecast rain, stormwater pollution likely Not suitable for swimming

Microbial water quality sampling at beaches

Samples are collected at 36 beaches around Port Phillip Bay every week. These samples are tested for enterococci, an indicator of faecal pollution (e.g., sewage, animal faeces). Swimmers who ingest water contaminated by faecal pollution may become ill. 

Lab analyses to determine enterococci levels take 24 hours. Results are reported to the community the day after samples were collected. If microbial water quality standards are not met and there hasn’t been any recent rain, EPA takes a second sample to investigate further. Water quality is expected to meet standards if there hasn’t not been rain and stormwater pollution.

You can view recent sampling results for Beach Report sites at DataVic.

Get water quality forecast alerts on your phone

Sign up to EPA’s free SMS service. You'll get a text when the water at a beach near you is forecast to have poor water quality. 

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How are forecasts calculated?

EPA forecasts predict the risk of stormwater pollution during and after rain. The forecasts are based on rain, water quality history, sunlight, regular sampling, and pollution reports.

The forecasts are informed by water sample results. The samples are tested for bacteria found in faeces called enterococci. Enterococci is the best indicator for measuring pollution from faecal contamination at beaches.

Our water sampling results are assessed against water quality standards for swimming in the Environment Reference Standard which came into effect in 2021.

How to use our forecasts to inform decision making

Forecasts predict the risk of stormwater pollution at Bay beaches. Beach Report forecasts are based on:

  • Historical microbial water quality – Indicates how susceptible a beach is to stormwater pollution
  • Observed and forecast rainfall – Indicates recent or likely stormwater pollution
  • Light levels (cloud cover) – Sunlight can cause die-off of microbes in the water
  • Regular water quality sampling results
  • Pollution reports
  • Other information considered – water levels at rivers flowing into Port Phillip Bay and observations from samplers or the community. 

The reason a forecast has been provided for each beach can be seen when selecting its pin on the Beach Report map on this page.

Making risk-based decisions about swimming or events at your beach

Beach Report forecasts are a starting point for decision making. Water quality can be variable over large areas and over time. Always check for signs of pollution before entering the water. 

You can use the following information to support your decision to swim. 

  • Assess if your beach is likely to be sensitive to stormwater pollution:
    • Are there stormwater drains nearby?
    • Is it close to the mouth of a river or creek?
    • Are you going to be recreating at the beach or further out in the Bay?
  • Check for observed rainfall in the last 48 hrs and for forecast rain:
    • BOM rain gauges with 30-minute updates. 
    • Melbourne Water rain gauges with one hourly updates. 
    • Check BOM rain gauges for rainfall >25 mm in the last five days.
    • Are there any BOM warnings for thunderstorms and flood warnings on the BOM website
    • BOM MetEye three hourly and 24 hour rain forecasts.
    • Check for pollution alerts.
  • Once at the beach, check for signs of pollution:
    • Are drains flowing?
    • Is the water discoloured?
    • Is there an odour?
    • Are there signs of recent stormwater pollution such as litter on the water’s edge?

 

The audience for Beach Report forecasts

Beach Report forecasts are conservative to protect human health. They are aimed at the broader community, which includes children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. These groups are at higher risk of illness if they ingest or come into contact with polluted water.

Gastroenteritis is a common illness you can get from swimming in polluted water. Children, elderly, and people with vulnerable immune systems are more likely to become ill, or get more severe illness from water-borne pathogens (e.g., central nervous system infections, respiratory diseases). Anyone experiencing swim-related illness should seek advice from their doctor. 

Areas of the Bay Beach Report forecasts apply to

Our forecasts apply to beaches where we sample for microbial water quality. You can check where we sample by zooming in on the pins on our Beach Report map on this page. Most Beach Report sites are located in front of life saving clubs, where people swim between the flags. Patrolled beaches display EPA’s water quality forecast signs.

Other beaches closer to stormwater drains or river mouths are at higher risk from stormwater pollution than Beach Report sites. Beaches further from stormwater drains and rivers are lower risk, as well as activities further out into the Bay and away from river mouths. 
 

Reviewed 19 December 2023