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Recreational water quality this summer

MEDIA RELEASE 14 November 2008

Recreational water quality this summer

Planning to go swimming this summer? Enjoy the water and feel safe in the knowledge that the rivers, lakes and beaches in the Bay of Plenty have high water quality. We know this because every year over the summer season Environment Bay of Plenty (regional council) undertakes recreational water quality monitoring to assess the state of popular recreational waters.

Environment Bay of Plenty has been monitoring water quality at popular recreational spots for some years, and generally tests show the water to be well within health guidelines.

Exceptions to this can occur during or shortly after rainfall. The contaminants, which include human and animal faecal matter, may enter our waterways mainly through urban and farm storm water runoff. Consequently it is best to avoid recreational water for 48 hours after rainfall that leads to any discolouration of the water. Let the waters clear for a day or so to make sure you avoid any increased exposure to faecal contamination.

Contamination may enter our waterways through leaky drainage and sewer pipes and through untreated sewage discharges. There is also increased risk to swimmers in waterways where there are stock crossings or free access by stock to the waterway upstream. The risk of catching a disease from swimming in water is usually low, however when contamination levels are high following heavy rainfall there is an increased chance that you may catch a gut, ear, skin or respiratory infection.

The water monitoring is based on guidelines released by the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Health. These identify alert levels, ranging from ‘green’ (highly likely to be uncontaminated) to ‘amber’ (potentially contaminated) to ‘red’ (highly likely to be contaminated). Should testing indicate sustained high red action levels at a particular monitoring site then Toi Te Ora - Public Health will advise that a public health risk exists and identify the site as temporarily unsuitable for recreational use.

Check out the latest water monitoring results at: Avoid swimming in rivers for 48 hours (two days) after heavy or prolonged rain because the water can be contaminated by farm and urban runoff Swimming in our beautiful waterways is a great attraction in the Bay of Plenty– please swim wisely.

Remember to also slip on a shirt, slop on some sunblock, slap on a hat and wrap on the sun glasses. Have a great summer.


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