WATER quality in the River Derwent at the New Norfolk Esplanade has been rated as "good" following a water monitoring review by the Derwent Estuary Program. Spokeswoman Christine Coughanowr said the review of data from the past five years would help people to make an informed decision about where and when to swim.
“Each week over summer, water quality is tested at 35 beaches and bays up and down the Derwent estuary, between New Norfolk and Opossum Bay,” Ms Coughanowr said. “Each site is classified as having good, fair or poor water quality in accordance with state and national guidelines.”
Top-ranked beaches in the Derwent include Opossum Bay, Hinsby and Taroona beaches, Blackmans Bay and Little Sandy Bay. Other sites classified as having good water quality include New Norfolk Esplanade, Kingston Beach (middle), Bellerive Beach and Little Howrah Beach.
Beaches classified as having fair water quality include Howrah Beach, Nutgrove (eastern end), Kingston Beach (northern and southern ends) and Windemere Bay. Ms Coughanowr said several popular recreational areas have a poor water quality classification, including the western end of Nutgrove Beach, New Town Bay, Cornelian Bay, Marieville Esplanade and Browns River at Kingston. Swimming at these sites is not recommended, according to state and national guidelines.
“Signs installed at popular swimming sites and foreshore parks indicate whether the long-term water quality is good, fair or poor and can be easily changed if and when sampling results are poor,” Ms Coughanowr said. "Water samples are taken on a weekly basis from December through March and are analysed for specific bacteria which indicate the presence of contaminants such as sewage and stormwater run-off,” she said.
During summer the test results are published in the Saturday Mercury newspaper.