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Call 0800 SAFESWIM before you take a dip

MEDIA RELEASE

21 October 2005

Call 0800 SAFESWIM before you take a dip

City and district councils are reminding Aucklanders thinking of heading to the beach that they can check that the water is safe for swimming.

The information is courtesy of Safeswim, a joint initiative from Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council and Rodney District Council. It involves testing water quality at 64 beaches and lakes in the region, including some on Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands. The programme starts 26 October 2005 and runs until 12 April 2006.

Testing is undertaken every Wednesday and the results are available on Friday by calling 0800 723 379 or visiting any of the three councils' websites.

Auckland City's environmental health manager, Chris Dee, says the service provides swimmers with access to this useful information before they get to the beach.

"As many of the region's beaches are located near built-up urban areas, beach-goers need to be aware of water quality issues," he says. "The two main sources of pollution at Auckland beaches are stormwater and wet weather sewage overflows. For this reason, we recommend that people do not swim for 48 hours after heavy rainfall."

The monitoring programme tests for enteroccoci bacteria in beach water and E.coli in fresh water. A high level of these bacteria indicates the presence of faecal matter in the water. The bacteria can cause illness - most commonly, mild diarrhoea or respiratory infections.

If beach water quality tests show high levels of enteroccoci or E.coli, people will be advised not to swim. Warning signs will be erected at affected beaches, and the source of the pollution will be investigated.

For further information, visit our website www.aucklandcity.govt.nz

ENDS

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