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New signs advise on water quality at Derwent beaches

New signs are being installed at beaches and foreshore parks on the Derwent estuary to inform the public about water quality.

The Director of the Derwent Estuary Program, Christine Coughanowr, said the water quality signage lets visitors make an informed decision about where and when to swim.

"The water quality information is based on water monitoring over the past five years. Each week over summer Derwent Estuary Program partners regularly sample 38 sites along the Derwent estuary," Ms Coughanowr said.

"Water samples are analysed for specific bacteria which indicate the presence of contaminants such as sewage and storm water run-off.

"The signs will show whether the long-term water quality is good, fair or poor. If water quality is found to be poor at a monitored site, the signs can be changed to advise the public not to swim until samples show improvement," Ms Coughanowr said.

"Sites ranked as good for swimming include the New Norfolk Esplanade, Little Sandy Bay Beach, Hinsby Beach, Taroona Beach, Kingston Beach (north and mid), Blackmans Bay Beach, Howrah Beach (west), Little Howrah Beach, Bellerive Beach and Opossum Bay.

"Those ranked as having fair water quality include Nutgrove Beach, Kingston Beach (south), Howrah Beach (east and mid) and Windemere Bay.

"However, recreational users of the Derwent should note that several popular recreational areas have poor water quality including Elwick Bay, Lowestoft Bay, New Town Bay, Cornelian Bay, Marieville Esplanade and Browns River at Kingston."

Several popular beaches that had previously received poor ratings have recently been upgraded to ‘fair’, including Nutgrove Beach in Hobart and Windemere Bay Beach in Claremont. Bellerive Beach improved from ‘fair’ to a ‘good’ rating two years ago.

The Mayor of Clarence, Mr Jock Campbell was pleased with the continued ‘good’ rating at Bellerive Beach.

"The result for Bellerive Beach is a real plus not only for the residents of Clarence but also for others who regularly visit the area," Mr Campbell said.

"It shows that the efforts of the Council and business to improve and maintain water quality along our shores are starting to pay off."

The Department of Human and Health Services’ State Manager of Environmental Health Stuart Heggie cautioned water users about the risks of swimming anywhere along the Derwent estuary after heavy rainfall.

"After periods of wet weather a number of beaches have experienced poor water quality. I would strongly recommend against swimming near stormwater outlets at anytime, and recommend that people avoid swimming for several days after any significant rainfall," Mr Heggie said.

A Derwent Beach Watch snapshot is published weekly in the Saturday Mercury newspaper.

For more information about the Derwent Estuary Program visit www.derwentestuary.org.au

The Derwent Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program is coordinated by the Derwent Estuary Program with support from the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and Arts; and the Hobart Metropolitan Councils, including the Derwent Valley Council.