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Good news for summer swimmers

4 August 2005

Good news for summer swimmers

Auckland City’s summer Safeswim bathing beach water monitoring programme reported an overall successful result for the 2004/2005 season.

Only one per cent of the 361 beach water samples collected over the past summer season exceeded the ‘alert level’ set in the Ministry for the Environment monitoring guidelines. This compares with four per cent in the two previous seasons.

Dry weather conditions over the past summer contributed to the decrease. Beach water quality is often affected by rainfall and increased run-off, or overflow.

“We are very pleased with these results,” says chairperson of the Works and Services Committee, Councillor Neil Abel. “Swimming and boating are major summer recreational pastimes for all Aucklanders. This monitoring and education programme ensures that everyone knows where they can swim safely without the risk of illness.”

The Safeswim programme is a combined programme run by Auckland City, North Shore City and Rodney District councils and has been operating for the past five years.

“This cross-council effort ensures a cost-effective monitoring approach and peace of mind for users of our more popular beaches across the region,” says Mr Abel. Over the summer, Auckland City monitors 15 beaches across the isthmus and Hauraki Gulf islands for 25 consecutive weeks.

This season Auckland City will be adding Home Bay and Ladies Bay to the monitoring programme. Testing will start again for the next season at the beginning of November and will run through until April 2006.

More than 50 beaches throughout the three areas (including Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands) are tested during the season to ensure the beaches meet national health guidelines.

The programme tests for enteroccoci in beach water. The presence of enteroccoci indicates the level of bacteria in beach water, which may cause illness – most commonly diarrhoea or respiratory infection.

If beach water quality tests show high levels of enteroccoci after two consecutive tests, people will be advised not to swim or participate in water activities.

Warning signs will be installed along affected beaches and councils will investigate the source of the pollution, and remedy it if necessary. As a general rule, people are advised not to swim 48 hours after heavy rainfall.

Before swimming anyone can call 0800 Safeswim (0800 72 33 79) to check the most recent water test results.

ENDS

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