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Regular recreational water quality information could be on the horizon to help people decide when and where to swim.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will consider including the Beachwatch Partnership Program in the draft 2023/24 Operational Plan. The vote was unanimous.
The state government program assists councils to monitor and report recreational water quality. Sites monitored range from beaches to lakes and lagoons.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is not one of the local government areas signed up to the program.
Council director Melissa Watkins said the council's current approach was to perform water quality testing in respect to beaches or water bodies adjacent to or affected by potential sewer overflows or pollution.
The council also applies the Australian standard which discourages swimming at beaches 72 hours after heavy rain. Lifesavers can make a call to open and close beaches.
Cr Danielle Maltman brought the Beachwatch matter before the council's November meeting.
Cr Maltman said Beachwatch was a valuable tool to provide transparent, regular and reliable beach water quality information.
She said implementation of Beachwatch would evidence the council's duty of care to the community and visitors.
"Quite simply, Beachwatch is our commitment to looking after our own backyard," Cr Maltman said.
Cr Lisa Intemann supported consideration of the program for inclusion in the operational plan, provided it was in a targeted manner.
Wayne Hudson, who runs Port Macquarie Surf School, spoke in support of the Beachwatch Program.
He said water quality testing was really important.
Mr Hudson said he hoped the council could assess the program and see if it had the funds to join.
He suggested Town Beach, Flynns Beach, Lighthouse Beach, Bonny Hills and North Haven beaches and Lake Cathie could be part of the program, depending on the council's funds.
Kate Aston from Revive Lake Cathie also threw her support behind the Beachwatch Program.
She said areas from Cathie lagoon, Lighthouse Beach and Middle Rock Beach to Bonny Hills Beach, at the junction of Duchess Creek and Rainbow Beach, had increasing numbers of tourists and locals using them.
"Following heavy rain, we have some very questionable water quality in those areas," Ms Aston said.
She said data collected from Revive Lake Cathie with the NSW Waterwatch Program would go hand in hand with the Beachwatch Program.
The Beachwatch Program involves collecting and testing water samples for bacteria to provide information on the level of sewage and stormwater pollution and whether it is safe to swim.
Star ratings are generated for each beach and annual beach grades are reported in the State of the Beaches report.
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