Tourists cautioned as fecal matter washes up on Melbourne beaches

Many tourists and Melbournians lounge by the beach in the summer months. Pic: TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock

AUTHORITIES are advising tourists and beach-goers to be wary about some of Melbourne’s most popular beaches after large amounts of feces were found to contaminate the waters last week.

Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority said on Monday that heavy rains had caused excrement to wash up on Port Philip from rivers, creeks, and drains. Swimming at 21 beaches were advised against due to poor water quality.

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Dr Anthony Boxshall, the EPA’s manager of applied sciences, told ABC News 24, “We have indicators we look for (in water tests), which is an indicator of faecal contamination, which is a really nice way of saying poo.

“It’s bird poo, it’s horse poo, it’s cow poo, and it’s people poo.

“It is everything that washes in from the streets, and everything that comes out through the storm water system.”

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The New York Times reported that residents were “deterred from indulging in a favorite summer ritual”.

Sam Riley, who lives in Melbourne, said, “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.”

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However, swimmers were given the green light yesterday as torrential downpours helped to clear up most of the shores. All 36 bay beaches are said to be suitable for swimming and rated as either good or fair.

Nevertheless, Dr Boxshall advised people to avoid swimming in discolored water or near storm water drains.

Fecal pollution can cause serious health problems including gastroenteritis.