The Healthy Waterplay program supports regionally consistent monitoring of recreational water quality in South East Queensland and provides our region’s communities with information about the potential health risks associated with waterway recreation.
The assessment of microbial water quality enables people to make informed decisions about where and when to use waterways for recreation. South East Queensland offers an abundance of great recreational waterways, which are generally clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.
Developed by Healthy Land and Water and the Human Health Science Expert Panel, the Healthy Waterplay reporting framework and sanitary inspection assessment tool aligns with national guidelines and is utilised by local councils to monitor waterways at various locations across South East Queensland. Once monitoring is completed, key health messages and suitability grades are developed and reported.
The initiative is supported by state government, local councils, water utilities, universities and other relevant organisations.
The program is supported by the Human Health Science Expert Panel:
- Dr Anne Roiko – Griffith University
- Dr David Cunliffe – South Australia Department of Health
- Dr James Smith – JJSMITH Consult
- Dr Cameron Veal – Seqwater
- Andrew Cook – Queensland Health
Educational fact sheets
- Healthy Waterplay: Monitoring recreational waterways in South East Queensland
- Healthy Waterplay: Top tips for enjoying our waterways safely
Resources for managers
Enjoying our waterways safely
The standard of waterways in Australia is generally very good, with our waterways suitable for recreational activities most of the time. However, there is a strong link between rainfall events and the health of our waterways.
Rainfall can wash pollutants into our waterways causing certain areas to become unsuitable for recreation. Waterway pollution can lead to mild illness such as stomach upsets and infections. Use your best judgement (and our top tips) to keep safe while enjoying our waterways.
Top tips for enjoying our waterways safely
There are two types of recreation in our waterways – primary contact is any activity where the whole body or face is frequently immersed in water, while secondary contact refers to activities where only the limbs are regularly wet and ingesting water is unlikely.
Follow these tips and always use your best judgement to decide if it’s safe to enter a waterway:
Tip 1: Wait after heavy rain
Avoid primary contact recreation with waterways during, and at least one day after heavy rain in open waterways and beaches, and for at least three days within confined bays and estuaries.
Tip 2: Avoid water near stormwater drains
Always avoid primary contact recreation in or near stormwater drains.
Tip 3: Look for pollution
Look out for indicators of pollution before entering waterways including discoloured or strong smelling water, and floating litter, scum or debris.
Tip 4: Look for warning signs
Look for posted warning signs and follow the advice on them.
Tip 5: Avoid contact with wounds and infections
Avoid primary contact recreation with waterways if you have an open wound or infection.
How can I help?
There are a number of things you can do to help keep our waterways safe and clean for all to enjoy –
- Use designated toilet facilities
- Avoid swimming if you have symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting
- Clean up after your pets, ensuring animal waste does not enter our waterways
- Dispose of human waste correctly when boating
- Take litter home with you and pick up any litter you see
- Maintain on-site sewerage facilities such as septic systems, contact your local government for advice.
Frequently asked questions
How do I report a pollution incident?
Please contact your local water utility to report a sewage spill or your local council to report other pollution incidents.
What should I do if I come into contact with potentially polluted water?
If you come into contact with a potentially polluted waterway, it is advisable to wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible. Pay particular attention to any open cuts to prevent infection.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you experience stomach upsets or infections after contact with a waterway, please visit your doctor for medical advice.
Who is most vulnerable?
Certain people may be more vulnerable to contracting illness and infection than others. Children under five years old, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and people with open cuts are generally most at risk.