Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority issued a warning to steer clear of all 36 beaches in Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city, due to a “poor” water quality rating, which turns out, is code for poop. This is not the first time this has happened.
Earlier this month, 21 beaches in Port Phillip Bay were deemed unsafe for swimming for the same reason. Dr. Anthony Boxshall, the manager of applied sciences at the EPA, told ABC, “We have indicators we look for which is an indicator of fecal contamination, which is a nice way of saying poo.”
To determine the water quality ratings, the EPA checks the levels of a bacteria called enterococci, which according to the NIH, is “found in high concentrations in human feces.” If the water has 400 or more enterococci for every 100 milliliters of water, it gets a poor quality rating because it makes you susceptible to illness.
Storms and flash floods struck Melbourne over the weekend, and those hostile weather conditions helped contaminate the water. Dr. Boxshall told The Age on Monday morning, “The bay is like a shallow tub and all the catchments drain into it.” There’s no exit.
Dr. Boxshall also warned that swimming in any of Melbourne’s 36 beaches could lead to gastronomical illness, as well as infections. “It’s gastro that we’re worried about and infections. If someone had an open wound on their hand, you can get pathogens,” he said.
Specifically, children, the elderly and pregnant women are at risk for contracting an illness from Melbourne’s beaches.
The shitty conditions are expected to remain for the coming days. After that, the unknown awaits.