The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has rated Melbourne’s beaches according to which are the safest to swim at. Hampton, Seaford, Portsea, Canadian Bay, Sandringham, Elwood, Rosebud, Santa Casa and Black Rock all ranked equal first. These beaches were most consistently given the green light for recreational use. The report is based on data from the summer just past.

The EPA’s “Beach Report 2015–16 Summer Highlights Report” is based on Melbourne Water’s weekly water-quality monitoring data from November 1, 2015 until April 10, 2016. This information is used to inform beachgoers about the safety of Melbourne’s bayside beaches on a daily basis via Twitter, its website and signage at locations serviced by Lifesaving Victoria clubs.

According to EPA group manager of applied sciences Dr Anthony Boxshall, “Port Phillip Bay water quality beach forecasts were ‘good’ 75 per cent of the time, ‘fair’ for 19 per cent and ‘poor’ for 6 per cent of the time. Our beaches are great places to visit, and the 2015–16 summer was particularly good for swimming conditions.”

Of the 36 sites monitored, 35 (97 per cent) met the authority’s end-of-season water-quality objectives for swimming, a slight increase from 2014–15 (94 per cent), but a large increase from 2011–12 (53 per cent) when there were significant summer storms that led to poor water quality across the board.

Only Mentone beach failed to meet these standards this past summer due to higher than acceptable levels of bacteria likely caused by stormwater runoff.

Though St Kilda beach met the authority’s overall water-quality objectives, it appeared second bottom of the list, largely due to the existence of a large stormwater drain and its proximity to where the Yarra River discharges into open water.

For locals who are perhaps more landlocked, and who head to the Yarra for a quick dip, the EPA’s report also covers water quality at various locations over the summer, with only Warrandyte meeting its water-quality objectives this past season.

While Dr Boxshall says that levels of bacteria at Melbourne’s beaches are lower than in the past, he still offers a word of caution: “When it rains, don’t swim near drains for 24 hours.”

Daily monitoring information for bayside beaches and the Yarra will continue again in December 2016, unless warmer-than-expected temperatures necessitate an earlier start to reporting, as happened in 2015–16.

Melbourne’s cleanest beaches ranked from 1–36 for the summer of 2015–16
1. Hampton
1. Seaford
1. Portsea
1. Canadian Bay
1. Sandringham
1. Elwood
1. Rosebud
1. Santa Casa
1. Black Rock
10. Half Moon Bay
10. Portarlington
10. Carrum
10. South Melbourne
14. Williamstown
14. Mount Martha
16. Sandridge
17. Safety Beach
18. Port Melbourne
19. Blairgowrie
19. The Dell
19. Altona
22. Frankston CG
22. Brighton
24. Sorrento
25. Mordialloc
26. Eastern Beach
26. Aspendale
28. Werribee South
29. Mornington
30. Dromana
31. Beaumaris
32. St Leonards
33. Rye
34. Frankston LSC
35. St Kilda
36. Mentone