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To check beach water quality, call 0800 SAFESWIM

MEDIA RELEASE


5 November 2003


To check beach water quality, call 0800 SAFESWIM

With the summer upon us, Auckland City, together with North Shore City and Rodney District Council, today kicks off its fifth season of 0800 SAFESWIM, the councils’ beach water quality monitoring service.

The water quality at 56 beaches in Auckland City (including Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands), Rodney District (including Kawau Island) and North Shore City will be monitored weekly from 5 November to 21 April.

“Our joint service is an effective way of pooling resources to achieve a consistent approach to water quality standards,” says Councillor Bill Christian, chairperson of Auckland City Council’s Works Committee.

The monitoring programme tests for enteroccoci bacteria in beach water. A high level of enteroccoci indicates the presence of harmful bacteria in beach water. The bacteria can cause illness – most commonly, mild diarrhoea illnesses or respiratory infections.

If beach water quality tests show high levels of enteroccoci, people will be advised not to swim. Warning signs will be erected at affected beaches, and the source of the pollution will be investigated. As a general rule, people are advised NOT to swim for 48 hours after heavy rainfall because stormwater and wet weather sewerage overflows are the two main sources of beach water pollution at regional beaches.

Test results are available from the Friday of each week, 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 0800 SAFESWIM (0800 72 33 79) or by visiting the three councils’ individual websites.

“The service makes it possible for people to check how clean the water is before heading to their favourite city beach,” says Mr Christian.

Although the population of Auckland has grown significantly in the last few years, the quality of our beach water over the past four summers has remained fairly constant, with very few one-off test results exceeding the recommended level. Of the 350 samples collected last summer, only 14 showed bacteria levels that exceeded guidelines. However, no warnings against swimming were issued, as second tests, conducted within 24 hours, showed that bacteria counts had dropped back to normal levels.

“The report on last season’s monitoring programme shows we have good marine water quality and that we can continue to enjoy our recreational beaches during the summer,” says Mr Christian.

ENDS

Ref: BS

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