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Hit the web before you hit the water

Hit the web before you hit the water

For immediate release: Tuesday 22 December 2009

It’s time to get your togs on – but not before you check Environment Bay of Plenty’s website this summer.

During summer, the regional council checks popular recreational bathing 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. These results are then posted on the regional council’s website www.envbopgovt.nz.

Environmental scientist Paul Scholes said the testing so far has shown good water quality throughout the region.

“Sampling so far shows we can give the green light to nearly all of the sites, which is great,” he said. “At the moment, they are safe for swimming.”

Only two sites at times have failed the standard. They are the Waimapu Stream at Tauranga’s Greerton Park and Kaiate Falls near Welcome Bay. Mr Scholes said the health warnings are put in place when they fail the standard. 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.

Residents and visitors are also advised to look out for warning signs at popular swimming spots and check the latest Toi Te Ora – Public Health advisories on www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz

ENDS

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