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0800 SAFESWIM offers water quality information

19 October 2004

0800 SAFESWIM offers water quality information

Aucklanders can easily find out if the water at their favourite beach or lake is bug-free and safe for swimming with the launch of the sixth season of the Safeswim programme.

Safeswim, a joint initiative between Auckland City, North Shore City and Rodney District Councils, involves testing water quality at 61 beaches and lakes in the region, including some on Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands. The programme will run from 20 October 2004 to 6 April 2005.

Testing is undertaken every Wednesday and the results are available on Friday by calling 0800 723 379 or visiting any of the three councils’ websites.

Barry Smedts, acting group manager at Auckland City Environments, says it is important beach-goers are aware of water quality.

“Auckland’s beaches are located in a major urban environment and we need to be mindful of the effect that this has on the water we swim in.

“For example, stormwater and wet weather sewage overflows are the two main sources of water pollution at beaches in the Auckland region. For this reason, we recommend that people do not swim for 48 hours after heavy rainfall,” says Mr Smedts.

The monitoring programme tests for enteroccoci bacteria in beach water and e.coli in fresh water. A high level of these bacteria indicates the presence of faecal material in the water. Illnesses, most commonly mild diarrhoea illnesses or respiratory infections, can result.

If water quality tests show high levels of enteroccoci or e.coli, people will be advised not to swim. Warning signs will be erected at affected beaches or lake sites, and the source of the pollution will be investigated.

ENDS

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