A report commissioned by the NSW Government has confirmed what locals have been saying for months, that human sewage regularly spills from stormwater drains onto Terrigal Beach.
The Microbial Source tracking in NSW Coastal Habitats Final Report was released on October 30 at the 28th annual NSW Coastal Conference, held at Crowne Plaza, Terrigal.
The report was prepared by the University of Technology (UTS) in collaboration with the NSW Department of Planning and Central Coast Council. Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, said the report was part of the NSW Government’s $500,000 election commitment to investigate the causes of poor water quality at Terrigal Beach and nearby lagoons.
“The report, prepared by UTS scientists, found that human, bird and dog faecal matter, as well as urban waste water, is responsible, ” Crouch said.
“It found that after rainfall, the presence of human faecal matter in the waters of Terrigal Beach increased to levels that pose a very high risk to human health. ” But it is not only after rainfall that the problem manifests. The report found that even in dry weather conditions, although seawater samples exhibited low levels of enterococci bacteria, which is the standard measure for water quality, high levels were found in the stormwater drains discharging onto the beach.
“These drain samples also consistently had elevated levels of three microbial markers indicative of human faecal material, with these markers sometimes also observed in seawater samples collected from Terrigal Beach, ” the report says. “These results are indicative of a regular presence of human wastewater and faecal material in the stormwater outlet system at Terrigal Beach, with one drain at the southern end of the beach consistently exhibiting high levels of contamination from these sources.
“There is evidence that even under dry weather conditions, microbial signatures of human impact were in some instances dispersed into the seawater at this site. ” The report also found that during a moderate rainfall event in June this year, drain and seawater samples increased to very high levels, significantly exceeding the threshold for human health risk.
Crouch said it went “without saying” that the presence of sewage in the storm water network at Terrigal Beach and surrounds needs to be fixed. “The project will now move to Stage 2, which will identify and prioritise the most problematic sewage and storm water management systems in the catchment for remediation, ” he said.
Crouch said that follow-up work at Terrigal Beach would be undertaken by Central Coast Council and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) scientists, who would share updates and findings with the community as work continues.
“I’m pleased that the focus is now on finding the source of this pollution and the best way to address it, ” he said. “The health of our coastline and waterways is a high priority for residents. “Our community expects decisive action. ”
Sources: Mediia release, Oct 30 Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch The Microbial Source-tracking in NSW Coastal Habitats Final Report, 2019