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Water quality still safe for swimming

MEDIA RELEASE

Water quality still safe for swimming

For immediate release: Friday 17 December 2004

The Bay of Plenty’s most popular beach and river swimming sites continue to be safe for bathing after nearly two months of regular water quality testing.

Environment Bay of Plenty has been monitoring many of the Bay of Plenty’s most popular sites, from Waihi Beach to Waihau Bay, since the beginning of November. The sites are tested weekly or fortnightly to make sure they are safe for swimming.

Samples are checked for faecal indicator bacteria which, if found, shows the likely presence of disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. When results exceed set guidelines, Environment Bay of Plenty contacts the relevant Medical Officer of Health and district council, ensuring steps are taken to protect public health.

Results to date show that water quality generally meets the guidelines set by the Ministry for the Environment, with the most popular sites currently suitable for bathing.

Some results have exceeded recommended guideline levels in some of the regions river sites. However, this was after heavy rainfall. Rivers in particular pose a “dramatically higher health risk” after heavy or prolonged rain because of contaminated runoff from farms and urban areas, especially rural areas on septic tanks.

It is recommended that people avoid swimming for at least two days after a reasonable downpour. Contaminated sites are sign posted and warnings should be adhered to.

The swimming quality monitoring programme runs alongside an algae-focused programme for the Rotorua Lakes. Results from both are posted on Environment Bay of Plenty’s website at www.envbop.govt.nz. Please call Paul Scholes at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) for more information.

ENDS

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