A health check for Sunshine Coast waterways
  • Saturday 25 February 2012

Sunshine Coast residents can look forward to better information about which beaches and waterways have the best water quality for swimming.

Over the next two years, Sunshine Coast Council and Unitywater will collect data at 37 beach and coastal river locations to assess health risks.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Keryn Jones said it was peace of mind for Sunshine Coast residents and visiting tourists to know that the water quality at their beaches is safe.

"While our beaches have been monitored and reported on previously, now we are introducing a new method of assessing beach water quality, based on rigorous scientific studies," Cr Jones said.

"The importance of this issue was highlighted by Queensland Health after the January 2011 floods, when significant health risks were identified in Brisbane’s waterways."

Unitywater’s Chief Operating Officer George Theo said its laboratories were perfectly positioned to provide this service.

"Unitywater’s laboratories are NATA accredited along with ISO certification to international standards for its environmental and quality management systems," Mr Theo said.

"Not only is this joint project close to our hearts with regards to environmental protection and sustainability but it also offers the opportunity to create alternate revenue sources through our laboratories, which will ultimately benefit our customers."

Thirty-seven locations will be monitored across the Sunshine Coast including patrolled beaches from Noosa to Caloundra and estuary sites in the Noosa, Maroochy and Mooloolah Rivers.

Bacteria will be measured 100 times at each site under different weather and seasonal conditions to give a reliable benchmark for council staff to identify if change has occurred and if it poses any risk to swimmers.

This method of recreational water quality monitoring is guided by the National Health and Medical Research Council and recommended for South-east Queensland by Queensland Health and Healthy Waterways.

The project is an initiative of the council endorsed Waterways and Coastal Management Strategy.

Council will continue to work with lifeguards and Unitywater to notify the community about any potential health risks such as wet-weather catchment run-off and sewerage overflows.

"Our beaches and coastal rivers are at the heart of our lifestyles and tourism industry. This project will help us keep them safe for locals and visitors to enjoy," Cr Jones said.