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DHB & Cl team up to monitor recreational waterways

Regional council and DHB team up to monitor recreational waterways

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council, along with staff from the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s public health unit and the local councils, work together to regularly monitor the Regions most popular recreational water sites.

Monitoring starts on Monday 10 November, and continues until 23 March 2003.

Scientists from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council take water samples from 27 beach, lagoon and river sites between Mahia and Porangahau, which are sent to a laboratory for testing each week. When bacteria levels exceed national guidelines, the public health unit will advise the public of swimming and other restrictions through the media, websites, and the Swim Safe phone line. Local Councils also put up warning signs and inspect the affected site to see if the source of the contamination can be found. In some cases the local Council will also take re-samples of water.

Hawke’s Bay DHB health protection officer, Ian Inkson, said New Zealand’s "clean green image" extends to our waterways. “The perception many of us have that our coastal water, estuaries and rivers are some of the cleanest in the world is well founded. However, after heavy rain it can be a different story.

“Storm-water collects waste from streets, lawns and parks and deposits it into rivers and the sea. Run-off from farms collects waste from farm animals, which also ends up in rivers and finally the sea.

“Animal and human waste contain disease-causing organisms and bacteria that can survive in river and marine environments for sometime, which is why it’s not wise to swim near storm-water outlets, or swim at beaches or rivers for up to three days after a heavy downpour.

Water conditions can change rapidly, especially after heavy rain.

It is best to avoid waterways for three days after heavy rain, especially if the water is murky. Avoid waterways if there is livestock or large numbers of birds in or near the water.

Illnesses related to infected water can include diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting (tummy bug symptoms) but also flu like symptoms, skin, ear and eye infections. People with symptoms that persist should see their doctor.

Certain river sites sometimes exceed the maximum level of bacteria set down in the New Zealand standards, regardless of whether rain occurred prior. These rivers are the Clive River, Pohokio Lagoon at Waimarama Beach and the Waipatiki Lagoon at the Waipatiki Beach. These areas are not generally recommended for swimming.

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