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Southland Rivers Adverse for Swimming & Water Activities

Joint Media Release

Southland River Conditions Adverse for Swimming & Water Activities

High and elevated levels of faecal contamination have been detected in four fresh water areas where people commonly swim and enjoy other water-based recreation.

The sites are the Aparima River at Thornbury, the Waikaia River at Waikaia – each presenting as a significant health risk; the Mataura River at Gore and Mataura River at Riversdale – each presenting as having potentially increased health risks.

Environment Southland routinely monitors water quality at recreational water sites at popular bathing and/or shellfish gathering locations. These results are available on our website, www.es.govt.nz.

Coastal scientist Nick Ward said the latest results are from samples taken before the heavy rain that has caused the current flood warnings on Southland Rivers, so levels of faecal contamination are likely to remain elevated for the immediate future and may increase at other sites, too. “It would be unwise to go swimming,” he said.

Medical Officer of Health Marion Poore said that all recreational users, including boaties and people fishing, need to be aware that if they go in the water they are at risk getting gastroenteritis. A good rule of thumb is to avoid areas where the water is churned up and murky.

Ms Poore said people should stay out of the rivers now and over the weekend because of the increased health risks and because the rivers are running high at present. “We want people to be sensible and avoid water contact even if the weather is good,” she said.

ENDS

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