Cooling off safely is now a little easier thanks to recent updates to Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria’s Beach report on yarraandbay.vic.gov.au.

The new features mean Victorians can track local beach water quality and, when needed, identify safer alternative swimming sites.

“We have provided a tool that makes it even easier for communities to protect their health by accessing water data about the recreation sites they use,” says Regan East, Program Coordinator – Environmental Condition Reporting, EPA Victoria.

APR Intern as Australia’s leading national-scale postgraduate program, proved instrumental to the project’s success.

“The program is a great way to get an injection of new ideas and approaches into a project within a limited timeframe. APR Intern added value to the project and allowed us to investigate options that would have otherwise been closed to us,” says Regan.

The national, all-sector, all-discipline postgraduate program matched the team to Deakin University PhD student, Indivarie Ubhayaratne. She had the skills and passion they needed.

“Indivarie identified quite a few options for improvements to the site and its products. Her skills in modelling, data visualisation and coding were essential to explore use of new data sources and location-based reporting,” says Regan.

For Indivarie it was the perfect platform to apply her PhD studies to a real-world problem and build skills for the future.

“This placement helped me improve my work readiness, gain communication skills, and expand my professional network. An advantage as I look to engage with industry,” Indivarie says.

On hand to help Indivarie, Professor Yong Xiang guided Indivarie on the technical aspects of the project. A role that ended up benefiting both.

“APR opens avenues for ongoing academic-industry collaboration. I hope to work with EPA in the future,” says Professor Xiang.

With research a continuing priority for EPA, there is sure to be future opportunities.

“We aspire to be a leader in environmental protection. Research and development is a major contributor to achieving this, helping address short term knowledge needs for current work and future priority issues,” says Regan.

*Report Card is a collaboration between EPA, Melbourne Water and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning with support from Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Life Saving Victoria and other partners.