Beach Health

Water Quality Sampling Results - 2022 Flood Event

We follow national water quality guidelines to determine the water quality of your local beach.

Council does not test for other contaminants, such as hydrocarbons and pesticides, which could be present in local waterways as a result of flooding. The rating of waterways below may vary, but due to visible signs of pollution Council still recommends to avoid swimming at all locations.

The testing date below refers to the date the water samples were collected, it may take up to 7 days after collection for the results to be processed in the lab and published below. 

date location rating description

28/04/2022

The Serpentine

****

Good

28/04/2022

Shaws Bay East Arm

****

Good

28/04/2022

Shaws Bay East

***

Fair

28/04/2022

Shaws Bay North

**

Poor

28/04/2022

Shaws Bay West

**

Poor

28/04/2022

Shaws Bay East Beach

***

Fair

28/04/2022

Lighthouse Beach

****

Good
Depending on tide and other factors there is a risk that
water quality may be highly variable at different times of the day

28/04/2022

Shelley Beach

****

Good

28/04/2022

Seven Mile Beach

****

Good

28/04/2022

Lake Ainsworth South

**

Poor

28/04/2022

Lake Ainsworth West

****

Fair
Lake Ainsworth may also be experiencing impacts on water quality
due to submerged facilities within close proximity to Lake Ainsworth

28/04/2022 Lake Ainsworth North **** Good

28/04/2022

Burns Point Ferry

****

Good

28/04/2022

The Spit

***

Fair

How to read star ratings

rating enterococci category
(colony forming units per 100ml)
description

****
4 stars

<41

Good
bacterial levels are safe for bathing according to NHMRC guidelines

***
3 stars

41-200

Fair
bacterial levels indicate an increased risk of illness to bathers,
particularly those with lower immune function such as the elderly and young children.

**
2 stars

201-500

Poor
bacterial levels indicate a substantially increased risk of illness to bathers

*
1 star

>500

Bad
bacterial levels indicate a substantially increased risk of illness to bathers

We test water samples for a bacteria called enterococci. Enterococci is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and excreted in faeces and rarely present in unpolluted waters. The bacteria is found in very high numbers in raw sewage which makes it a good indicator of sewage pollution.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between elevated levels of enterococci and illness rates in swimmers. It’s important to note that enterococci doesn’t cause illness, but its presence means there’s sewage in the water and, therefore, possibly pathogens, which do cause illness.

Indicator organisms are used to test for sewage pollution because:

  • they are easily detectable by simple laboratory tests
  • they are generally not present in unpolluted waters
  • results are available relatively quickly.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (2008) Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters recommend enterococci as the single preferred indicator organism for the detection of faecal pollution. The above results do not include testing for chemicals and other pollutants.


Beachwatch Monitoring Program

Ballina’s coastline is significant to the shire and promotes cultural, economic, environmental and recreational activities. The Ballina coastline stretches from Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head to Patches Beach (near Wardell).

Poor water quality in waterways can cause concerns for human health. That is why for over a decade the Council has been involved in the Beachwatch Monitoring Program with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment which monitors and reports on recreational water quality.

The program aims to provide regular and reliable information on recreational water quality to enable the community to make informed decisions about where and when to swim. Currently Council monitors water quality weekly at the following swimming sites from November to February each year:

  • Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head
  • Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head
  • Shelly Beach, Ballina
  • Lighthouse Beach, Ballina
  • Shaws Bay, Ballina
  • The Serpentine, Ballina

Ballina Shire Beaches Water Quality Star Rating


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The General Manager
Ballina Shire Council
PO Box 450
Ballina NSW 2478

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Ballina NSW 2478

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