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Water Quality Testing At Beaches To Continue

June 12, 2002

Auckland City will continue testing water quality at city and Hauraki Gulf beaches during the 2002/2003 bathing season.

It will be the fourth year council has conducted tests of its key recreational bathing beaches, with samples taken weekly from late October through to April, when swimmers are regularly in the water.

“Having beaches with clean, safe water for swimming is one of the most important ‘quality of life’ issues for Aucklanders, not to mention its importance for our tourism industry” says Councillor Bill Christian, chairperson of the council’s Works Committee.

“The testing programme allows us to warn people if there’s a problem, and over time collect good data which builds a better understanding of the city’s catchments,” says Cr Christian.

Water samples are checked for enterococci bacterial levels, which studies have shown is the best indicator of potential health risk in marine waters. High readings can be indicative of sewage escaping into harbour, usually via the stormwater system as a result of a spill or overflow within a catchment.

Sampling is conducted at 15 Auckland City beaches. These are Pt Chevalier, Herne Bay, Judges bay, Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers, and Point England (Isthmus beaches), Surfdale, Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi (Waiheke beaches), and Port Fitzroy, Medlands and Tryphena (Great Barrier beaches).

The costs of sampling are shared with North Shore City and Rodney councils which also conduct the weekly testing programme over the same period.

During the last season (2001/2002), Auckland City experienced bacteria levels which exceeded guideline levels on three occasions, two being for samples taken on Great Barrier and the other at Judges Bay. The same frequency applied for the previous year, down from four excess readings during the first year of testing (1999/2000).

The two instances on Great Barrier were at Port Fitzroy and Tryphena during the week prior to Christmas 2001, during which time those harbours experience a seasonal influx of yachts and boats.

“While any result which exceeds guidelines is disappointing in itself, the overall picture of three exceedences in a six month period is a pretty good result for Auckland City” says Cr Christian. “It does reflect positively on the ‘health’ of the water quality at our bathing beaches,” he says.

ENDS

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