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Safe to swim in Bay of Plenty

MEDIA RELEASE


Safe to swim in Bay of Plenty

For immediate release: Monday 21 November 2005

Get your togs on! Environment Bay of Plenty has given the thumbs up for swimming in most of the region’s rivers, beaches and lakes.

Over summer, the regional council checks popular recreational spots for signs of bacterial contamination. Staff collect samples every week or fortnight from nearly 80 sites from Waihi Beach to Waihau Bay and around the Rotorua lakes.

Environmental scientist Paul Scholes says the first set of results has come up trumps for water quality. Staff tested 20 lake sites, 24 river sites and 35 beaches for the likely presence of bacteria and viruses. “We were able to give the green light to nearly all of them, which is great,” he says. “At the moment, they are safe for swimming.”

Only three failed the standard. They are the Waimapu Stream at Tauranga’s Greerton Park and Two Mile Creek and Three Mile Creek at Waihi Beach. Mr Scholes says the three sites carry health warnings for much of the year because of their bacterial content. He says this is probably from contaminated runoff from farms and urban land.

When monitoring results exceed the guidelines, Environment Bay of Plenty contacts the local district or city council and the Medical officer of Health to ensure people know not to swim. Mr Scholes warns people not to swim if they see a warning sign. It is also best to stay out of any rivers for two days after it rains. Rainfall can stir up river sediments and release bacteria held in them. It can also wash bacteria off the surrounding land, contaminating the water.

Monitoring results are posted on Environment Bay of Plenty’s website. However, if you are concerned about water quality in a specific spot, give the council a call and staff will check for you. Environment Bay of Plenty also has a monitoring programme that tests lakes in Rotorua for toxic algae.

ENDS

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