Water quality tests

Weekly and monthly bacteriological water samples are taken throughout the Floating Harbour to monitor the water quality and record trends. Testing water quality levels in Bathurst Basin started in 1994 but was discontinued in October 2012. Following a freedom of information enquiry, three weekly tests were conducted in August 2019 with the following result for 27th August:

Bathurst Basin: Total Coliforms (CFU): 26000  E Coli (CFU): 3200
Baltic Wharf:      Total Coliforms (CFU): 1300      E Coli (CFU): 170

Regular testing of water quality in the Basin has been discontinued.

The City Council website has the following advice:

If E.Coli levels go above 5000 counts per 100ml at the Baltic Wharf site or across all other sites, a warning notice will be displayed on this website and at Baltic Wharf, outside the Harbour Master’s Office. You should avoid using the harbour during this time. Daily testing will be carried out until levels improve.

On 27th August 2019, the Baltic Wharf readings were very low, but the Bathurst Basin e.coli level was uncomfortably close to the level that would trigger a water-quality alert if recorded in Baltic Wharf. 

Bathurst Basin is frequently used by canoeists, kayakers, paddle-boarders, many of whom are youngsters learning new skills. They choose Bathurst Basin as there is little or no marine traffic to disturb them. Regular water quality checks in the Basin are important – and possibly more so than those made close to Prince Street Bridge or St Augustine’s Reach, where leisure activities are rare. FOBB have requested that testing in the Basin resumes.