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South Broulee Beach gets the all clear after sewage spill

Sharon Kelley5 February 2021
South Broulee Beach.

South Broulee Beach is clean and safe following a sewage spill earlier this week. Photo: Supplied.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has declared South Broulee Beach is safe for swimmers after sewage contaminated it earlier this week.

On Monday, 1 February, council identified a sewerage blockage and detected contamination in the stormwater outflow, which discharges onto South Broulee Beach. Tree roots blocked an underground sewerage main on Grant Street, causing an overflow to the stormwater system.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s environmental health coordinator, Nathan Ladmore, said when potential contamination to recreational swimming areas was identified, council erected signs to warn swimmers of a potential hazard. The signs were left in place until the test results were clear.

“In this instance, we tested the beach water on Monday as part of our normal Beachwatch program and sent the samples to the laboratory,” said Mr Ladmore.

“Those results came in late Wednesday afternoon, and follow-up sampling and results on Friday [5 February] gave it a ‘good’ rating, meaning bacterial levels were safe for swimming.”

A close-up of contaminated storm water at South Broulee Beach.

Eurobodalla Shire Council closed South Broulee Beach on Wednesday, 3 February, due to high levels of bacteria following a sewage spill. Photo: Alex Rea.

Contractor Cleanaway cleared the blockage, or ‘choke’, in the sewerage main on Wednesday, 3 February, with a high-pressure water jetting machine.

Council’s water and sewer manager Brett Corven said throughout the Eurobodalla Shire there are around 530km of sewerage main pipelines, which occasionally become blocked by tree roots breaking through in search of water.

“Our sewer main renewal program is progressively relining our sewer pipes to prevent chokes such as this,” he said. “We also have an annual sewer main cleaning program in which high-risk pipes are flushed.

“Our team will inspect the Broulee main using a camera to see if any further work is required. Residents have complained of odours near the surf club and this will help to identify if there is a further problem to this week’s sewer choke.”

Council will continue to monitor water quality at South Broulee Beach through its Beachwatch program, which monitors 11 of Eurobodalla’s popular swimming beaches and reports the results on council’s website.

To determine whether water quality is safe for swimming, beaches are assessed in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters. The 2008 guidelines instruct enterococci as the indicator organism for the detection of fecal contamination in recreational waters.

A ‘good’ rating means bacterial levels are safe for bathing according to the guidelines.

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