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Two new water samplers take to the air


October 19, 2006

Two new water samplers take to the air

North Shore City Council has trained two new 'water samplers' to undertake beach water quality testing from a small Robinson helicopter as part of this season's Safeswim programme.

>From 25 October, the helicopter will be making weekly visits to 64 sites in Auckland, Rodney and North Shore including 27 North Shore beaches and six spots on Lake Pupuke.

The helicopter hovers a couple of metres above sea level and is used to ensure water samples are of a good quality and get to the lab quickly so the results are reliable.

The samplers' training has included underwater escape, and how to retrieve and avoid contamination of the 100ml water samples in a confined space.

One of the samplers, North Shore City Council's pollution prevention co-ordinator Natalie Managh, says it is a fast paced, demanding job.

"The whole run takes about 3.5 hours, in which time we have to stay safe, collect and try not to spill the samples and hold on to our breakfast," she says.

When collected all the samples are taken to Water Care Services to be tested for bacteria that if present in high enough quantities could make some people who use the water sick.

If results show water quality is not within national health guidelines, warning signs (on red posts for visibility) advising the public of the potential health risks are temporarily put up at affected sites.

The test results are available by calling 0800 SAFESWIM (0800 72 33 79) or by visiting www.northshorecity.govt.nz

To keep safe, people are also advised not to swim at North Shore beaches for 24 hours after heavy rain; not to play or swim in streams, stream mouths, stormwater outlets or ponds on beaches.

The Safeswim programme is in its seventh year and will run until Easter next year.


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