Water and your health

Check the water quality before you swim

Heading to the beach? Make sure you check EPA’s Beach Report for the latest water quality forecast before you swim.

We monitor bacterial water quality at 36 beaches in Port Phillip Bay during summer and put out forecasts through our Twitter @EPA_Victoria and Yarra and Bay twice a day. Our forecasts tell you whether water quality is likely to be good, fair or poor.

We also partner with Melbourne Water to provide water quality forecasts for four swimming spots along the Yarra River with YarraWatch.

Sign up for SMS alerts

We can send you a text when water quality looks poor at your beach. Sign up up to receive SMS alerts.

What do the forecasts mean?

  • Good: Suitable for swimming 
  • Fair: May not be suitable for swimming. Check for signs of stormwater pollution before swimming 
  • Poor: Unsuitable for swimming

How does EPA determine water forecasts?

Beach report forecasts for the same day are issued at 10.00 am and 3:00 pm, and a next-day forecast is also issued daily at 3.00 pm. 

Forecasts are generated using a matrix which generates forecasts for any time, based on a combination of historical water quality data (measuring enterococci bacteria), past and predicted rainfall, and cloud cover conditions. These variables are given a weighting based on how likely they are to influence water quality.

How can swimming in polluted water affect your health?

People with weaker immune systems such as the elderly and children, are more at risk of developing a swimming-related illness and should take particular care. The most common illness from swimming in polluted water is gastroenteritis (gastro).

Symptoms include:

  • eye, ear, skin and upper respiratory infection
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • headache
  • fever.

Top tips for protecting your health from water pollution

  1. Check beach report before you swim and make an informed choice about whether to get in the water
  2. Avoid swimming near stormwater or river outlets 24-48 hours after heavy rain
  3. Always check for signs of pollution before swimming: water that looks cloudy or coloured 
  • water that has an unusual smell 
  • water that has a foam or oil film on the surface 
  • dead fish in the area 
  • algal blooms 
  • litter or other substances in the water.

Help protect other Victorians. If you see water pollution, report it to Environment Protection Authority 24-7 on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC)

Page last updated on 8 Oct 2018