Case Study:

Beachwatch Training Program 2009 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage


The Beachwatch Training Course 2009 was developed to reflect the requirements of the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters (2008). The 2008 guidelines supersede the Australian Guidelines for Use of Recreational Water (NHMRC 1990) and replace some sections of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC 2000). The primary aim of the 2008 guidelines is to protect human health by assessing, managing and reducing risks associated with recreational water use.

The key aim of the training course was to build the capacity of local councils to monitor recreational waters and to support the implementation of Chapter 5 (Microbial Quality of Recreational Water) of the NMHRC Guidelines 2008. SD Environmental Management was engaged to develop an interactive training course which reflected the protocol for the Assessment and Management of Microbial Risks in Recreational Waters developed by the Beachwatch Programs, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Water NSW. The training course needed to provide practical information and activities to facilitate the design and implementation of programs for assessing microbial contamination in recreational waters and to devise effective management solutions. The training course was to be offered to local and state government officers responsible for the assessment and/or management of swimming locations in NSW.

The objectives of the course were to ensure that participants, at the completion of the course, were able to:
  • Understand the risk management framework for recreational waters
  • Understand the microbial quality guidelines
  • Select suitable locations/sites for assessment, including identifying swimming locations and pollution sources, assess the likelihood and consequence of contamination and grade beaches using a priority matrix, undertake sanitary inspections and enter data into the Sanitary Inspection Database
  • Design a sampling program, collect water samples and manage them
  • Manage and analyse data and provide beach suitability grades
  • Develop a Communication Plan and report the results to the community
  • Develop an Incident Response Plan and implement management controls.

Four two-day training courses were held at Lennox Head, Port Macquarie, Terrigal and Batemans Bay. Two additional one-day courses were held in Sydney. A total of 82 participants attended the course, with representatives from NSW Health, Sydney Water Corporation, National Parks and Wildlife and local councils.

Course Feedback

Evaluation forms indicated that the course rated highly with 83% of participants giving an overall rating of very good or excellent. The trainers' knowledge, training manual and opportunity for discussion with other participants also rated highly with 90% of participants giving a rating of very good or excellent. All participants thought the trainers' presentation style and general course content was good, very good or excellent.

Participant Comments

"Being a new council employee this training has been an excellent introduction to the Beachwatch Program. I would feel comfortable carrying out the program for Council now."

"I feel more knowledgeable about standards and work of Beachwatch and role of council in management of recreational water."

"Thanks Sonja for the high standard of training that you continue to provide. The manual gave me the necessary information to answer all the questions our councillors will need."

"Clear and concise information, excellent presenters and great location."

"Updated knowledge, provided adequate resources and tools, presented changes clearly."

"Will help with implementing the new guidelines."

Client Comments

"SD Environmental Management Pty Ltd designed the original Beachwatch Training Course back in 2002. The course was so well received that when it was time to update it to meet the requirements of the new guidelines, we went straight back to Sonja. SD Environmental Management Pty Ltd redeveloped the course within a tight timeframe, meeting all specifications. The training materials were of a very high standard and beautifully presented.

This time around, the courses were as popular as ever. Sonja has a fantastic training style and is able to engage the participants with first hand experiences, anecdotes and really innovative and fun practical sessions. I highly recommend SD Environmental Pty Ltd for the development and delivery of environmental training and look forward to working with Sonja again."

Cris Hickey
Manager Beachwatch Programs
Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.