The Beachwatch Program, run by the Department of Environment and Conservation NSW, covers the Hunter, Sydney and Illawarra regions, sampling over 120 swimming locations each week to check for pollution. In addition, more than 150 swimming locations in regional areas are monitored by local councils under the Beachwatch Partnership Program.
Our beaches have two main sources of pollution - sewage treatment plants and suburban stormwater. The main source of poor water quality in Sydney is stormwater. Stormwater transports street waste and litter through drains to our swimming waters.
Sewage from leaking pipes, septic tanks and overflows is also carried in stormwater, which means that our ocean beaches can be polluted for up to one day after heavy rain and our harbour beaches for up to 3 days after heavy rain.
Another source of distress for our beaches is litter. The main sources of litter are plastics 73%, non-plastics 14%, commercial fishing 8% and recreational fishing 5%.
So the next time you are at the beach, remember to consider your environment and let's keep our beaches clean - don't forget to take your rubbish with you!
For further information go to environment.nsw.gov.au/beach
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