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Recreational water quality

Caution - rainwater affects recreational water quality

Residents are reminded that rainfall often collects pollutants from streets, gardens and farms, before it is flushed into our ocean and rivers via the storm water system. Stormwater run-off can increase pathogen levels in the water and make it unsafe for swimming. Popular swimming locations, such as swimming enclosures, rivers, lakes, creeks and beaches – particularly those near stormwater outlets – are sometimes affected.

As a precaution always avoid swimming:

  • one day after heavy rainfall at open beaches
  • three days after heavy rainfall at river and estuarine locations
  • in water that looks discoloured, murky, or smells unpleasant
  • near stormwater drains.

The City continues to monitor sites across the Gold Coast.

For advice regarding beach closures and water quality issues visit our Media Centre.

Healthy Waterways

Healthy Waterways

The Gold Coast's rivers, estuaries and beaches are our natural playground. They're enjoyed by many every year for swimming, boating, fishing, surfing and wildlife-watching. Keeping them healthy is good for the environment and essential for our city,  tourism and lifestyle. The City is committed to managing and caring for our waterways. 

From time to time, the quality of our waterways can change which can affect the health of its users. There is a strong link between rainfall events and the health of our waterways. Rainfall often collects pollutants from streets, gardens and farms. It then flushes it into our ocean and rivers via the storm water system. As a result, pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites) are more likely to flow into our waterways.

There is a strong link between rainfall events and the health of our waterways. Rainfall often collects pollutants from streets, gardens and farms, before it is flushed into our ocean and rivers via the storm water system. As a result, pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites) have an increased likelihood of being transported into our waterways from the catchment.

It is not possible to know the exact levels of pathogens or microbial pollution in a given waterway at all times. The results from waterway monitoring state the levels present at the time of the sample. It takes at least 24 hours to get the results by which time the microbial pollution may no longer be present.

Tips to help you decide when to enter a waterway

Avoid swimming after rainfall

Rainfall often collects pollutants from streets, gardens and farms, before it is flushed into our creeks, rivers and oceans via the storm water system. Stormwater runoff can increase bacterial levels in the water and make it unsafe for swimming.

As a precaution avoid swimming during and:

  • one day after heavy rainfall at open beaches
  • three days after heavy rainfall at river and estuarine locations.

Avoid swimming near stormwater drains

Stormwater is rain or water that runs off roofs, roads and footpaths into the nearest creek, river or waterway. Stormwater is not treated before it enters our waterways and often contains pollutants which can make our waterways unsafe for human contact.

Do not swim in water that looks discoloured, murky, or smells unpleasant

Look out for the visual indicators of pollution before entering waterways including discoloured or strong smelling water, and floating litter or debris. Also check for visual signs of algae blooms such as discolouration and/or floating scum.

Always follow advice on water quality

When pollution is detected in a water body, information will be posted on this website and health warning signs may be installed to alert the public not to use the water. Always follow this advice and do not go swimming.

Avoid swimming if you have an open wound or infection

If you have an open wound or infection and go swimming in water that is polluted, your infection may worsen. Reduce your risk and do not swim.

Everyone has an impact on the health of our waterways. Listed below are some of the effective ways that you can reduce the impacts of pollution.

Use appropriate toilet facilities

Make sure you use proper toilet facilities when you need to go to the toilet. Take your children to the toilet regularly. Do not put yourself or others' health at risk by using our natural waterways as a toilet.

Dispose of animal waste appropriately

You can help reduce the volume of contaminants that wash into our waterways by picking up after your pets. It is also important that agricultural animals, such as cattle are prevented from directly accessing waterways.

Dispose of human waste hygienically when boating

It is important that you dispose of your toilet waste safely and away from areas where people go swimming. Follow advice from Maritime Safety Queensland on waste disposal from boats.

Dispose of rubbish correctly

Ensure that you take your rubbish with you and it is disposed of appropriately. If rubbish is dropped on the ground, it can be washed into the stormwater system and then end up in out natural waterways.

For more information find useful links, frequently asked questions and information sheets below.

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