Shelly Beach Ballina after a significant rain event recently. Picture: Rebecca Fist
Shelly Beach Ballina after a significant rain event recently. Picture: Rebecca Fist

Water safe to swim in? We won’t know until summer

LOCAL surfers and swimmers will be playing a guessing game when they take to the water over the next nine months.

Ballina Shire Council undertakes water quality testing for the NSW Beachwatch app through summer, and stops testing in March.

“We only sample for Beachwatch over December, January and February as this is the busiest time for recreation water use,” Environmental Health Officer Rachael Jenner said.

“So we have ceased sampling now and will start up again in December.”

Councillor Jeff Johnson would like to see testing continue all year round.

“People can swim all year round here,” Cr Johnson said.

“We need that testing after weather events, the public needs to know when they are safe to swim.

“Council has a duty of care to provide that information.”

There has been patchy rainfall for 12 days in a row in Ballina, casting doubts over water quality, particularly in Lake Ainsworth and Shaws Bay.

“At Shaws Bay, the water quality is poor for a significant period of time after rain and it does become a public health concern,” Cr Johnson said.

“I do believe council should be monitoring our public waterways more often.”

Cr Johnson said water testing was not particularly resource-intensive or expensive for council.

In summer, council tests various Lake Ainsworth waters, Lighthouse Beach, Seven Mile Beach, various Shaws Bay locations, Shelly Beach and The Serpentine.

Cr Johnson will raise the matter with the general manager at the finance committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon.