The New Year for Australians and beachgoers stinks — literally.
According to a NY Times report, Melbourne beaches are polluted. Government officials issued alerts on Thursday when water analysis revealed evidence of fecal matter. The raw sewerage is not uncommon and often threatens rivers and coastal waters during inclement weather, especially with heavy rainfall totals.
Anthony Boxshall works with the Environment Protection Authority (or EPA) as the group’s manager of applied sciences. Waters are managed and owned by the Victoria government. Boxshall addressed reports about the polluted beaches in Melbourne. He even injected some comedy into the smelly matter plaguing the beaches.
“It’s poo in all its luxurious forms that is causing the problem.”
Boxshall said the source of the raw sewerage is from animals and humans. The heavy rains forced the fecal matter to the surface where it infiltrated creeks, drains, and rivers around Melbourne. Agency officials issued alerts and advised the public to avoid some 21 beaches over threats of poor water standards.
— Apple News Australia (@AppleNewsAU) January 2, 2017
To put things in perspective, Melbourne is the country’s second-largest city and is a hotspot for families and individuals on vacation. Therefore, it’s a big deal when beaches are closed due to fecal pollution.
Boxshall said the source of the raw sewerage is from animals and humans. The heavy rains forced the fecal matter to the surface where it infiltrated creeks, drains and rivers around Melbourne. Agency officials issued alerts and advised the public to avoid some 21 beaches over threats of poor water standards.
As a practice, the EPA takes periodic samples to determine the chemistry and health of the water. Ratings of “good,” “fair,” and “poor” are assigned based on test results.
Good means it is safe to swim. Fair indicates that rainfall may or may not have affected the water. A poor rating means the public should not swim in or drink the water.
Sam Riley lives in Melbourne. Like many others, he was disappointed that the incident ruined the holiday. He weighed in on the water pollution.
“When the temperature gets above 86 Fahrenheit, Melbournians typically pack the family in the car with food and drink and spend the day at the beach. I was going to take my two young boys to the beach myself over the summer, but now I’m concerned about whether the water is clean.”
Not only does fecal matter give off a foul odor and is unsightly, the waste material is hazardous to your health. Typically, the organic matter harbors bacteria or the norovirus that leads to gastroenteritis. Some refer to the condition as the “stomach flu,” but it is not related to influenza, according to MedlinePlus. The biggest threat to a sufferer is dehydration.
“Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.”
Boxshall said the situation is usually self-limiting and conditions usually improve after the rains relent. He warns that it may take several days for water tests to give the all-clear signal. “It’s not going to be great tomorrow, so I would think about not going for a swim if you don’t want to get sick,” Boxshall said.
— EPA Victoria (@EPA_Victoria) December 2, 2016
Luckily, on the first day the year, Mother Nature tossed the country a lifeline. As Business Insider wrote, the weather was “cold and blustery which prevented all but the ultra-adventurous beachcombers from getting out in the sand and surf.
“Yesterday, the mercury in our most livable city hit the lowest January maximum since 1996 – a bracing 17.8C. Which is fortunate, because it stopped all the people going to the beach and catching gastro. Environmental Protection Victoria’s website listed 21 of 36 beaches as ‘no swim’ because heavy rains have filled them up with poo.”
Stay tuned to developments and public alerts about Melbourne’s polluted beaches before entering the water by visiting the Yarra Bay’s website above.
[Featured Image by Kokkai Ng/iStock by Getty Images]