Environmental Water Sampling
In partnership with the Department of Health, the Town’s Health Services collect water samples from Sandy Beach Reserve and Point Reserve to test for bacteria and amoeba levels. These water samples are collected each year on a weekly basis, between November and April. There are a number of water bodies monitored within WA. For an extensive list, refer to the Department of Health website.
The purpose of monitoring the water quality is to achieve the following:
- make sure the water is safe to swim in and recreate;
- classify water bodies to help you decide where you want to swim;
- issue warnings during pollution events;
- identify bacterial pollution sources;
- look for long-term bacterial trends.
Bacteria in water can come from a number of sources including domestic animals, human effluent and wildlife. Swimming and / or swallowing river water contaminated with high levels of bacteria, may cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis, skin irritations as well as respiratory, ear and eye infections.
What are we looking for?
Water samples are analysed for Enterococci, which are commonly found in the stomach of warm-blooded animals and humans. Although enterococci are not harmful, high levels can indicate the possible presence of harmful microorganisms including viruses and protozoa.
Water samples are also tested for the bacteria Escherichia Coli (E. Coli), which are a group of bacteria also found in the stomach of warm-blooded animals and humans. These bacteria are a very good indicator of faecal contamination.
Some water bodies are tested for amoebae – such as Naeglaria fowleri, which is responsible for the extremely rare but fatal disease amoebic meningoencephalitis (amoebic meningitis).
The bacterial water quality at each site is assessed and a “Grade” is then assigned to that site. There are five possible grades that could be assigned to the site: very good, good, fair, poor or very poor. These grades have been further categorised into three colours, green, amber or red. Green represents the safer areas to swim, whilst red represents the areas of higher risk.