Warning Signs Stolen From Beaches
Warning! Beaches may not be safe for swimming – and with the continual theft of temporary warning signs swimmers are unaware of the danger.
Manukau City Council’s beaches are regularly tested for the bacteria enterococci from December through to March. If test results show high levels of the bacteria Council staff will erect a temporary warning sign until the levels are safe according to national guidelines. National guidelines are put out by the Ministry of Health and Ministry for the Environment.
In the last 12 months approximately 16 signs, including two that were concreted into the ground, have been stolen. In some cases signs have been folded up in rubbish bins or hidden behind public toilets.
Environmental Health Officer, Laurie Franks, says the Council doesn’t have the power to close a beach so the signs are the only mechanism to inform recreational swimmers of the health risks.
“The signs are important because they inform the general public that they may be exposing themselves to risk of illness if they swim or paddle in contaminated water. This is particularly important for young children and the elderly whose immune system may be compromised,” says Mr Franks.
High levels of enterococci can increase the risk of contracting respiratory illness, gastric illness, infections of the ear and skin and other diseases.
Each sign costs the Council between $130 to $600 depending on wording and size. Council staffs are asking residents to keep an eye out for people removing or damaging the warning signs.