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Another super safeswim summer

26 April 2006

Another super safeswim summer

Results showing safe water quality levels at all of Auckland city's beaches have capped off another successful summer for the council's Safeswim programme.

Safeswim, a joint initiative from Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council and Rodney District Council, involves testing water quality at 64 beaches and lakes in the region, including some on Great Barrier and Waiheke islands.

This year's programme ran from 26 October 2005 to 12 April 2006, with weekly bacteria level testing carried out on water samples taken from a helicopter at all of the beaches.

During this monitoring season, only one test result exceeded the Ministry for the Environment action guidelines, the same as that in the 2004/2005 season, down from seven in the 2003/2004 season.

"We're really pleased with the results we've got over this past summer," says Chris Dee, Auckland City's environmental health and licensing manager.

"However, despite the good results, as Auckland's beaches are located in a major urban environment we need to be mindful of the effect that this has on the water we swim in," he says.

"For example, stormwater and wet weather sewage overflows are the two main sources of water pollution at beaches in the Auckland region. 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, further samples are taken the following day. If two consecutive samples exceed the levels stated in the Ministry for the Environment's guidelines, people are advised not to swim, warning signs are erected at affected beaches, and the source of the pollution is investigated.

For more information about the Safeswim programme, call Auckland City on (09) 379 2020 or visit www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/safeswim


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