Beach Report is back this summer

Woman walking on Rye beach

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is urging beach-goers to check the Beach Report forecasting service or sign up for its SMS service before hitting Port Phillip Bay’s beaches this summer.

EPA Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood said Beach Report, back for its 29th summer, would help keep Victorians informed about water quality in Port Phillip Bay from Sunday, 1 December 2019 until Labour Day.

“Our beaches are great places to visit, but they are also complex ecosystems. In certain conditions they can be home to types of bacteria that pose health risks to swimmers,” Dr Hinwood said.

Dr Hinwood said more stringent water quality standards, being used for the first time this summer, would help ensure that EPA’s Beach Report is more protective of health.

“The new standards take a precautionary approach to protecting public health. They rely on scientific studies linking microbial levels in water with the actual risk of illness,” she said.

“This is good news for swimmers and means they can have an even higher degree of confidence in our forecasts.”

A common swimmer-related illness is gastroenteritis. Children, the elderly and people with vulnerable immune systems are at the highest risk of getting ill from water-borne germs.

EPA’s forecasts for 36 Bay beaches are published on the Yarra & Bay website, as well as on Twitter by following @EPA_Victoria.

On the website people can also sign up to EPA’s free SMS service to receive a text when the water at selected Port Phillip Bay beaches is forecast to have poor quality.

In partnership with Melbourne Water, EPA will again be forecasting water quality at four spots along the Yarra River – Healesville, Kew, Launching Place and Warrandyte. These forecasts are also available on the Yarra & Bay website.

“The best way for beach-goers and Yarra swimmers to avoid illnesses and to safely enjoy the coast and waterways this summer is to follow the advice in EPA’s forecasts,” Dr Hinwood said.

People should see a doctor if they have a suspected illness after swimming.

The new water quality standards have been introduced as a result of the State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) (Waters), which came into effect in 2018.