Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bellingen signs on to water quality program

Bellingen Shire Council has announced its ongoing participation in the NSW Government’s Beachwatch program for a second consecutive year, in time for the summer swimming season.

Council says the decision reaffirms its dedication to providing the local community with easy access to reliable water quality information at seven of the region’s most used recreational water sites.

The published results from the test empowers residents and visitors to make informed choices about when and where to enjoy water-based activities, the Council says.

beachwatch sign_2023

Council says it will facilitate the testing of bacterial levels, including indicators of faecal pollution and Water quality results that will be made available weekly on the Beachwatch website beachwatch.nsw.gov.au/home.

Users can search for their respective town within the Shire to access the latest results. Beachwatch signs with QR codes to the latest test results have been erected at each of the testing sites, putting decision-making power in the hands of the community.

The testing locations, which remain consistent with the previous year, encompass the following sites:

  • Never Never River – Arthur Keoughs Reserve
  • Bellinger River – Lavenders Bridge
  • Bellinger River – Mylestom tidal pool
  • North Beach – At Surf Club
  • Urunga Lagoon – Urunga Lido
  • Hungry Head Beach – At Surf Club
  • Dalhousie Creek – At Surf Club
JustineElder Beachwatch02

Bellingen Shire Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Justine Elder (pictured) emphasised the importance of this data-driven approach, saying, “Our findings from last summer’s waterhole testing have highlighted significant fluctuations in water quality.

“We observed poorer results following periods of heavy rainfall, a predictable and expected outcome. However, pinpointing additional sources of water pollution, whether from wildlife, agriculture, sewage, pets, human activity, or urban runoff, relies on our continuous monitoring and data comparison over the years.”

Council says it has established protocols for addressing poor water quality as part of the Beachwatch program including timely notification to the public on Beachwatch and Council’s websites within 72 hours of sample collection and ongoing re-sampling until site quality improves, possibly at alternative locations to pinpoint pollution sources.

Managing water quality in the Shire is a collective responsibility, it says.

“Visitors to recreational water sites are encouraged to “go” before you go, remove all rubbish when departing, and clean up after their dogs. Property owners around the waterways must ensure proper fencing on properties along rivers, lagoons, or estuaries to prevent animal access to the water.”

“Council understands that through regular testing and robust data collection, it can identify problem areas and seek practical solutions to preserve our picturesque waterways for everyone’s enjoyment,” the Council said.

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