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Don't swim or eat shellfish from city rivers

Don't swim or eat shellfish from city rivers

Wastewater, diluted with stormwater, was released into the city rivers at 9.15am today (Wed 11 June).


People are advised not to swim or eat shellfish gathered from city rivers or beaches for the next five days or until the water has cleared. The Medical Officer of Health has been notified. .

The heavy rain has caused stormwater to enter Gisborne city’s wastewater water system through old and cracked pipes, says engineering and works group manager Peter Higgs.

“This overloaded the wastewater system causing it to back-up. When this happens, Gisborne District Council has two options; open the valves and release the storm and waste water into city rivers; or allow the wastewater to discharge onto properties and roads.”

“Council believes opening the valves is the best option. The quantity of water in the rivers after heavy rain means that any wastewater that discharges into the river is quickly diluted.”

“For up to five days after heavy rain, the water in Gisborne city rivers tends to be dirty and bacteria levels elevated whether or not wastewater has been released. Our soils contain a large amount of sediment. The rain flushes sediment – run-off - from the high country land into our rivers along with agricultural and forestry waste.”

Council will be erecting signs near city beaches and rivers advising people not to swim or collect shellfish until the water clears.

“While there have been no reported cases of illness attributed to wastewater discharges in the past, we want to make sure all beach users can make an informed decision as to whether they want to swim or surf at the moment. Council also has a text alert system to notify subscribers when wastewater has been released into city rivers. I encourage anyone who would like to receive a text to please sign up on council website.”

Council is investing $28m over ten years on Gisborne’s wastewater system renewing or replacing old and cracked pipes and increasing the capacity in the system to avoid wastewater being released into city rivers in the future”.

ENDS

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