Bad news in Ballina for last weekend of summer
IT'S the last weekend of summer, but still, Shaws Bay in Ballina won’t be the most inviting place to take a dip — if you want to get in at all.
Ballina Shire Council has confirmed the water quality readings for the popular swimming spot this week have only marginally improved since last week.
The major part of the bay was given a two-star rating, with only a sample taken from the eastern arm of the bay receiving the top rating of four stars.
The sampling, undertaken as part of council’s involvement in the State Government’s Beachwatch program, was done on February 25.
Ballina council takes samples from 13 sites, including five sites in Shaws Bay.
The ratings are based on the measurement of “enterococci colony-forming units per 100ml”, and the latest sampling was taken on Tuesday of this week.
The Beachwatch website says enterococci are “indicators of the presence of faecal material in water and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa”.
Shaws Bay turned brown as dirty water caused by the recent flooding flowed down the Richmond River.
The Beachwatch website says “studies have shown a strong relationship between elevated levels of enterococci and illness rates in swimmers”.
“It’s important to note that enterococci doesn’t cause illness, but its presence means there’s sewage in the water and, therefore, possibly pathogens, which do cause illness.”
The website says the indicator organism is tested for sewage pollution “because: they are easily detectable by simple laboratory tests; they are generally not present in unpolluted waters; results are available relatively quickly.”
The Beachwatch program started in 1989 in response to community concern about sewage pollution washing up on Sydney’s beaches.
Next week’s Ballina Shire test results will be available at the Beachwatch website www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/ beaches/beachwatch-water-quality-program.