Australians enjoy recreational activities in and around the water, including swimming, surfing, fishing, and boating. There are
Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water (2008, National Health and Medical Research Council). There are also NSW Health guidelines for
Public Swimming Pools and Spa Pools.
Potential health hazards vary depending on the water type and activity. In general the more contact with the water the better the water quality must be. The guidelines define physical, chemical and microbiological limits on water quality for three main categories of recreational activity:
Hazards include accidents; exposure to the elements; microbiological pollution; chemical pollution and exposure to toxic algae and their products.
The contamination of recreational waters can result in disease outbreaks and illness in the community. The greatest potential risk is posed by microbial contamination of the waters by such organisms as bacteria, viruses and algae. This is why NSW Health recommends that you do not swim within 24 hours of heavy rain at ocean beaches and within 3 days in estuaries or rivers.