State of the Beaches Report gives Hunter beaches a clean bill of health

THEY may be in the midst of an ugly algal bloom – but the Hunter’s beaches have been given a clean bill of health, according to a new report which monitors water quality.

The region’s beaches were among the best in the state, the State of the Beaches findings show, with more than 79 per cent of the tested Hunter swimming spots rated either “good” or “very good”, a slight improvement on last year’s results.

The iconic Bar to Merewether stretch rated “very good” and “good”, while Nobbys was “very good”. Newcastle and Stockton beaches also got the tick of approval.

Swimming spots in picturesque Port Stephens, which includes Fingal, One Mile and Birubi beaches, rated either “good” or “very good”.

And Lake Macquarie’s Redhead, Dudley, Blacksmiths and Caves beaches were all great for water quality.

However, other locations in the Lake received a less-than-average result.

STUNNING: A surfer lines himself up for a wave at Pogos. Picture: Dave Anderson

STUNNING: A surfer lines himself up for a wave at Pogos. Picture: Dave Anderson

Eleebana (Lions Park), Swansea, Cams Wharf, Speers Point Park, Bolton Point and Wangi Point all received a “poor” rating for water quality.

The most common groups of pathogens found in recreational waters are bacteria, protozoans and viruses.

Overall, however, the report noted the Hunter had achieved a good result.

That was despite large dumpings of rainfall earlier in the year such as the June east coast low.

“This is a good result, similar in performance to the previous year even with prolonged wet weather periods and significant storm events,” the report concluded. “The Hunter region has a large proportion of lake/lagoon and estuarine swimming locations in its program, which have been most susceptible to impacts from wet weather conditions.”

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was vital Newcastle defend its title of having some of the clearest beaches in the state. “Making sure only rain is going down the drain is the easiest way to ensure we keep getting good and very good water quality results,” she said.

BELLA VISTA: A new dawn at Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

BELLA VISTA: A new dawn at Merewether. Picture: Dave Anderson

Hunter Water spokesman Nick Kaiser said the report showed the region’s beaches were a sun, surf and sand paradise. It comes after a new $12 million upgrade of the Burwood Beach Wastwater Treatment Works.

“With all local beaches rated as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ by Beachwatch, our region’s reputation as being a paradise for those seeking sand and sun remains intact,” he said.  “When it comes to enhancing livability in the Hunter, one of the best ways we can help at Hunter Water is by keeping beaches clean.”

The algae, which washed up on beaches between Newcastle and Redhead on Sunday, still lingers in the southern corners.

Newcastle council was quick to allay fears the beaches weren’t safe for swimming.