Swimmers have been urged to think twice before plunging into the water at some of Australia’s busiest beaches this weekend.
Heavy rain that has smashed Sydney this week has swept pollution and sewage into the harbour and beaches, resulting in poor water quality and the threat of bacterial diseases.
The contaminated stretch of coastline extended from Port Stephens and the Central Coast to the NSW south coast.
Beachwatch has issued a series of warnings in recent days to stay out of the water and to watch for signs of pollution such as flowing drains, odours, litter and debris.
Most beaches were deemed unsuitable for swimming across Sydney on Thursday.
Many Sydney waterways (in red) remain unsuitable for swimming on Friday due to poor water quality
Authorities urge beachgoers to swim with caution if entering the water this weekend
They include popular swimming sites such as Balmoral Baths, Rose Bay Beach and Murray Rose Pool.
Sydneysiders are urged to swim ‘with caution’ at many beaches including Bronte and Tamarama, Malabar and Little Bay.
The same warning is in place for most Central Coast beaches.
Most ocean contamination is caused by sewage, which can leak into stormwater during heavy rain.
Contaminated waters brings the threat of disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, protozoans and enterococci.
‘Enterococci are a good indicator of faecal contamination in the environment because they shouldn’t be there naturally, they’re found in the human gut,’ said Professor Justin Seymour, leader of the Ocean Microbiology Group at the University of Technology Sydney told the Sydney Morning Herald.
His research of Sydney beaches also revealed there were 10 times more antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the water after heavy rainfall.
‘That’s a problem because if you get an infection from an antibiotic resistant microbe, it’s going to be difficult to treat,’ Professor Seymour added.
Despite the health warnings, Sydneysiders are expected to flock to the beach on Sunday as the city hits a top of 32
Most Sydney beaches were deemed unsuitable for swimming on Thursday
Beachwatch advises it takes up to 72 hours for water to fully clear after heavy rainfall.
Sydney is set to reach a top of top of 28C on Friday and Saturday before the mercury rises to 32C on Sunday.
The temperatures are also forecast to surge past 30C from mid next week in lead up to the Australia Day long weekend.
Seymour’s research on Sydney beaches also revealed there were 10 times more antibiotic resistant bacteria in the water after intense rainfall.
‘That’s a problem because if you get an infection from an antibiotic resistant microbe, it’s going to be difficult to treat,’ he said.
Sydneysiders aren’t the only ones advised to stay out of the water.
On the other side of the country, popular swimming spots south of Perth have been forced to close.
A growth of killer amoeba has emerged as a result of the recent scorching heatwave that has blasted the west.
Naegleria fowleri – the organism responsible for amoebic meningitis – can cause a fatal infection to the brain if inhaled, particularly in children.
Symptoms of amoebic meningitis include severe and persistent headaches, high fever, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, confusion and hallucinations and drowsiness.