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Safe to swim in Bay of Plenty waters

MEDIA RELEASE


Safe to swim in Bay of Plenty waters
For immediate release: Friday 19 October 2006

Get your togs on! Though the water might still be chilly, Environment Bay of Plenty has given the thumbs up for swimming in most of the region’s rivers, beaches and lakes.

Over the warmer months, the regional council checks popular bathing spots for signs of bacterial contamination. Staff take samples from nearly 80 beach, river and lake sites either weekly or fortnightly. The sites cover the region, from Waihi Beach to Waihau Bay and around the Rotorua lakes. The lakes are also tested for toxic algae under a separate programme.

Environmental scientist Paul Scholes says the first bacterial results have just come in – and they’re great. “We were able to give the green light to nearly all our sites,” he says. “At the moment, they are safe for swimming.”

Only two failed the standard, Two Mile Creek and Three Mile Creek at Waihi Beach. Mr Scholes says these carry health warnings for much of the year because of their bacterial content. He says this is probably from contaminated runoff from farms and urban land.

When monitoring results exceed the guidelines, Environment Bay of Plenty contacts the local district or city council and the Medical officer of Health to ensure people know not to swim. Mr Scholes warns people not to swim if they see a warning sign. It is also best to stay out of rivers for two days after it rains. Rainfall can stir up river sediments and release bacteria held in them. It can also wash bacteria off the surrounding land, contaminating the water.

Environment Bay of Plenty posts monitoring results on its website, www.envbop.govt.nz. However, if you are concerned about water quality in a specific spot, give the council a call and staff will check for you.

ENDS

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