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Swimming Warning - Wairoa River Contaminated

MEDIA RELEASE
3 December 2003

Swimming Warning - Wairoa River Contaminated

Hawke’s Bay’s District Health Board medical officer of Health, Dr Caroline McElnay, today issued a warning, advising members of the public not to swim in the Wairoa River due to contamination.

Dr McElnay says monitoring by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council identified high levels of E. coli in water samples taken on 1 December.

“The levels significantly exceeded the maximum levels recommended in the Ministries of Health and Environments Recreational Water Guidelines. The level of these bacteria indicates excessive amounts of faecal matter, either animal or human was in the water.

Further sampling will be undertaken by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Wairoa District Council. The warning will be lifted in due course when the results of the further samples are acceptable.

All surface water should be assessed before swimming by checking the water clarity, evaluating the number of animals and water birds in or near the swimming point.

The safety of water can change rapidly following heavy rain and it is recommended that three days of fine weather should pass before swimming at any river, lagoon or estuary. Extremely heavy rainfall can also make the sea contaminated as well.

“With the current warm weather it may be tempting to “hit” the water, however the Public Health Unit recommends that people phone the Safe Swimming Line for the latest water quality results before they set off for a day in or on the water. The number is (06) 878-1368 and the line is updated regularly with information on sites that are contaminated.

“If you’re in the Wairoa area, this is definitely a good time to use a swimming pool.” Dr McElnay said.

ENDS

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