Swimmers at the mouth of the Evans River.
Swimmers at the mouth of the Evans River. Samantha Elley

Swimming spots that could cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fever

THREE popular North Coast swimming spots have been rated as "poor" in the 2015/16 State of the Beaches report.

The report, which was released this month, assessed 14 beaches, bays, rivers and lakes in the Ballina Shire and Richmond Valley, which are the two councils that participate in the Beachwatch program.

Shaws Bay North, at Ballina, has deteriorated in water quality over the past 12 months and again returned a poor rating.

The western section of Lake Ainsworth at Lennox Head and the Evans River were also rated poor.

According to the report, sites with a poor rating are "susceptible to faecal pollution and microbial water quality" and are not always suitable for swimming.

"During dry weather conditions, ensure that the swimming location is free of signs of pollution, such as discoloured water, odour or debris in the water, and avoid swimming at all times during and for up to three days following rainfall," the report explains.

"Contamination of recreational waters with faecal material from animal and human sources can pose significant health problems to beach users owing to the presence of pathogens (disease-causing micro-organisms) in the faecal material.

"Exposure to contaminated water can cause gastroenteritis, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach-ache, nausea, headache and fever.

"Eye, ear, skin and upper respiratory tract infections can also be contracted when pathogens come into contact with small breaks and tears in the skin or ruptures of the delicate membranes in the ear or nose."

Five swimming sites in the Ballina Shire and Richmond Valley were rated as "very good", and these were:

  • Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head
  • Lighthouse Beach at Ballina
  • Airforce Beach at Evans Head
  • Main Beach at Evans Head
  • Shark Bay at Evans Head.

In the "good" category were:

  • The east and south sections of Lennox Head's Lake Ainsworth
  • Shelly Beach at Ballina
  • The east and west sections of Shaws Bay at Ballina
  • The Serpentine at Ballina.

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