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Weather not great but beaches ready for fun

Weather not great but beaches ready for holiday fun

The weather may not be going to plan, but at least Auckland’s beaches look likely to pass the test for swimming over the Christmas period.

That’s the latest from Auckland City, North Shore City and Rodney District Councils, who jointly run the Safeswim programme that involves weekly testing of water quality at 61 beaches and lakes in the region, including some on Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands.

Since testing began back in late October, all beaches tested have received a ‘safe’ rating each week. A ‘safe’ rating means that the water quality is within the Ministry for Environment's guidelines and safe for swimming. Weekly test results are made available to the public via the 0800 SAFESWIM number or by visiting their local council’s website.

The tests measure the levels of enterococci in the water. Enterococci are bacteria that occur in the gut of humans and animals. When found in beach water, enterococci usually indicates the presence of faecal material. Testing for enterococci is an easily obtained and reliable measurement of beach water quality.

Barry Smedts, manager of compliance monitoring at Auckland City, says the bacteria usually enter the water via stormwater and wastewater overflows that empty into the sea.

“For example, dog droppings that haven’t been picked up can be swept by rain into the stormwater system which empties into the sea,” said Mr Smedts.

“Stormwater and wet weather sewage overflows are the two main sources of water pollution at beaches in the Auckland region.”

Mr Smedts said that for this reason, the recommendation was that people do not swim for 24 to 48 hours after heavy rainfall.

The Safeswim programme runs for 25 weeks, through to April 2005.

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