Water quality alert for Port Phillip beaches

    Published 8 January 2023
    Statement by Acting Mayor Andrew Bond

    Sunday 8 January 

    Beach Report update: Elwood and St Kilda beaches are now rated fair. There is an alert current for St Kilda Harbour dog beach. Check water quality at bay beaches and Yarra swimming spots on the EPA Beach Report.

    Saturday 7 January 

    I am very pleased to share there has been progress today in resolving the oil spill affecting Port Phillip beaches and Williamstown.

    The EPA announced that testing has revealed the spill is vegetable oil (mainly palm oil), which presents no hazard to human health.

    It is still unpleasant for beachgoers, however, and can harm some wildlife. EPA teams are continuing to inspect stormwater drains as far away as Brighton in the search for a source.

    As part of the multi-agency approach to cleaning up the oil, members of our Council’s beach cleaning team made significant progress today in removing pockets of oil along our foreshore. We thank our Bayside Council colleagues who lent a hand and the specialist support from the Oil Response Corporation of Australia (ORCA). Our thanks also go to Melbourne Water for installing booms to help contain the oil.

    The EPA this afternoon upgraded the water quality for several Port Phillip beaches which means they can again be enjoyed by residents and visitors.

    Sandridge, Port Melbourne and South Melbourne are now rated as “fair” for today and “good” tomorrow.

    St Kilda and Elwood, which were more affected, are still rated “poor” for today and tomorrow, which means swimming there is not recommended. We are looking forward to them being ready for beachgoers to again enjoy a dip and for four-legged visitors to resume their runs.

    Water quality at most beaches around the bay is still rated as good – go to EPA Beach Report to see the latest forecasts.

    Friday 6 January 

    The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a water quality alert for Elwood, St Kilda, Middle Park, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Sandridge and Williamstown beaches.

    The EPA advises members of the public to avoid contact with the oily material along the beach and in the water at these beaches. We urge everyone including dogs to avoid these beaches until the oily substance has been cleaned up.

    The clean-up is likely to take a number of days, so we recommend that beachgoers consider alternative locations to enjoy the warmer weather this weekend. You can check the forecast for water quality at beaches around the bay and swimming spots on the Yarra by visiting EPA Beach Report online.

    We also have plenty of beautiful parks to enjoy in the interim throughout the City of Port Phillip and the MO Moran dog park along the Elwood Foreshore is a safe fenced dog park for all to enjoy.

    We are working closely with the EPA Victoria, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Parks Victoria, the Department of Transport, Melbourne Water and Zoos Victoria to ensure this spill is cleaned up as quickly as possible so people can enjoy our beautiful foreshore again.

    There have been reports of dead fish and a small number of affected birds in the area but the EPA has not yet established whether those incidents are connected to the spill. Monitoring of the Little Penguin colony at St Kilda Breakwater is underway and wildlife experts from Zoos Victoria are assisting with the response.