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Helicopter to check beach water quality

Media Release
5 November 2008

Helicopter to check beach water quality

Manukau City Council will get some help from above with its summer water quality testing programme.

The council is using a helicopter to check the water quality at Manukau’s popular swimming beaches. A sample bottle will be lowered from the helicopter as it briefly hovers at the site, before moving onto the next site. The samples will then be taken to a laboratory for testing.

Testing this way saves time and money says the council’s environmental scientist James Corbett.

“Previously testing was carried out by council’s environmental scientists, who would have to drive for hours to get to each site, crossing from one coastline to other, but now with the helicopter it’s all done in one flying swoop.

“It’s also more efficient because the council is sharing the costs with the Auckland and North Shore City councils.”

Testing is about making sure that water in the city’s popular swimming beaches is safe for swimming, and quickly letting the public know the results. Tests are conducted each Wednesday, with results available late on the following Thursday on council’s website or through the 0800 SAFESWIM number 0800 7946 7233.

The beach water quality monitoring programme tests for bacteria that indicate the presence of bacteria that may cause illness. When the indicator bacterial levels are low this suggests that the beach is likely to be safe to swim at.

Stormwater carries pollutants off the land into the streams and out onto the beaches. Sometimes sewage may enter the stormwater. Bacteria and viruses may cause illness for swimmers through contact with open wounds or by swallowing water, and to people eating contaminated shellfish.

Water quality is certain to be lower after heavy rainfall when run-off from the catchment area above the beach is washed into the water. As a general rule people should wait at least 24 hours after heavy rainfall, before swimming at beaches.

Before heading to the beach this summer, people can ring the free 0800 SWIM SAFE (0800 7946 7233) number or check online at www.manukau.govt.nz/safeswim or www.manukau.govt.nz and type ‘beach’ or ‘SAFESWIM’ into the search function.


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