Swimmers enjoying a Saturday afternoon swim at a couple of Australia’s most popular sun-kissed beaches were suddenly ordered out of the water by lifeguards.
But it wasn’t because a great white shark had been spotted in the surf, or the authorities had detected an oil spill.
Instead, a massive overflow of poo.
Day-trippers Redleaf Beach, in Sydney, were told to get out of the water at around 1pm, and a couple of hours later swimmers just up the coast at Bronte Beach were also evacuated.
Officials at the beach told members of the public to "avoid the water for a few days" as a precaution.
One beachgoer described how five decontamination trucks had been scrambled to the scene by Sydney Water.
“It was a bit chaotic, at least 100 or so people were still milling around the beach confused,’” he told the Daily Mail.
“Officials wouldn’t tell anyone what had caused it, someone with a clipboard just laughed at me knowingly when I asked what it was.”
“I’m just glad I didn’t make it into the water," he added, "it’s pretty disgusting and such a shame on a long weekend.”
Officials collected water samples for testing and the local council announced on social media shortly after 3pm on Saturday that the water and a small section of sand at Bronte Beach would be closed for the rest of the day "due to poor water quality from a sewerage issue".
A spokesperson from Sydney Water confirmed that the incident had been caused by a “wastewater overflow” from a public toilet.
“A blockage in a public toilet wastewater line operated by Woollahra Municipal Council caused a wastewater overflow this morning in Double Bay.
“It is understood Council rangers closed Redleaf Beach and Murray Rose Pool and barricaded the toilet block.’
"Sydney Water staff confirmed with our staff sewage was in the water and they were water testing on site and asking people to get out of the water," a Woollahra Municipal Council spokesperson added. "Sewerage is managed by Sydney Water."
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