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Beaches still some of best in New Zealand

Some rivers are poor quality but beaches still some of best in New Zealand

Monday 7 February 2005

Bay of Plenty rivers show the poorest quality for bathing in the region under a new grading system being introduced by Environment Bay of Plenty.

While some lakes are also not in great shape, the region’s beaches came up trumps with a large number in the top “safe for swimming” categories.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s group manager regulation and resource management, Paul Dell, says the results follow past trends and so are not a surprise. “However, they again reinforce the urgency of the work we’re doing to improve the quality of our lakes and rivers.” He says much of the policy being promoted by the regional council’s Water and Land Plan has the aim of improving the region’s inland waterways.

“On a brighter note, our beaches are still some of the best in the country”, he adds.

The Ministry for Health and the Ministry for the Environment developed the new grading system to provide a nationally consistent standard for bathing water quality. The system has two components, the first of which analyses historical data. It then merges the information with a general risk assessment of a bathing spot’s susceptibility to faecal contamination, such as from a nearby sewage outfall or stock. This results in a “suitability for swimming” grading, ranging from very good to very poor.

The system, which takes a cautious approach, offers a fallback position for bathing spots that do not have much monitoring data. It will help Environment Bay of Plenty identify and prioritise the sites for summer monitoring. The regional council works with health authorities and district councils to select sites.

A summary of the bathing site grades was presented to the regulation and monitoring committee meeting last Tuesday 1 February. It classified six river sites as “very good” for bathing quality, three as “good” and four with “fair” rating. Five logged as “poor” and seven as “very poor”. Six sites did not have enough data to be classified properly

Thirteen lake sites received very good, good or fair classifications while three were in the poor or very poor categories. Thirteen sites will need to be followed up for more information.

In contrast, 13 beach bathing sites are considered “very good” for bathing under the new system, with only two sites marked as poor. None fell into the lowest category.


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