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Cleaned up for summer

Sydney's beaches have been given an unexpected clean bill of health, just in time for summer.

More than 95 per cent of the city's beaches were given an A-grade rating in the annual State of the Beaches report, issued by the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, yesterday.

Across the state 97 per cent of beaches were graded ''good'' or ''very good''.

The results were released as Sydney experienced its hottest October day, at 33.8 degrees before midday in the city.

''It's fantastic for our beach-goers this year,'' Ms Parker said, ''particularly considering our rainfall has been 60 per cent above average.''

Beach water quality typically deteriorates after rainfall as pollutants are washed through drains out to sea.


Cris Hickey, the manager of BeachWatch programs for the Office of Environment and Heritage, agreed that the results were surprisingly good.

Management of water quality was a far cry from the days of unidentifiable waste floating past people in the water, she said.

''Twenty years ago, very few Sydney beaches would have been graded as good or very good,'' she said. ''There has been some huge improvements in the last decade in stormwater and sewage overflow management.''

Ms Hickey said the the cleanest beaches in Sydney were still Palm, Avalon and Whale beaches. ''The Cronulla beaches on the southern shore are also very clean.''

At Malabar beach, swimmers were urged to monitor BeachWatch updates before entering the water. Ms Parker said $2 million worth of outflow works should produce better results next year.

The state opposition environment spokesman, Luke Foley, questioned the government's commitment to water quality after $54 million was stripped from Sydney Water's infrastructure budget this year. Work to improve the reliability of the Malabar treatment plant has been delayed to 2016-17, he said.

Davidson Reserve on Sydney Harbour and Foreshore Beach at Botany Bay were classed as very poor for the first time, he said.