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Puarenga Stream investigation will continue

Mixed bacteria results mean Puarenga Stream investigation will continue

For immediate release: Monday, 15 August 2011

A number of sources of bacteria have been found in Puarenga Stream as a result of a Bay of Plenty Regional Council investigation. Council will continue its investigation to try to track the exact sources of contamination.

The Council’s investigation into contamination of the stream follows a complaint by a member of the public. Council staff have undertaken source tracking and additional monitoring recently to try to determine what the problem was and where any contaminants might be coming from.

Initial results have shown the presence of faecal contamination from livestock, seagulls, waterfowl and human sources. The existence of these in the stream is not unexpected given the land uses within the catchment.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Group Manager, Water Management Eddie Grogan said that the complex nature of the catchment and the wide range of activities that could be contributing to contamination make the process of investigation time-consuming and difficult.

“We have been testing for a number of contaminants during the past two months, these results have shown that concern for the water quality of the stream is justified and that there are a number of contributing factors which may be influencing this outcome,” he said.

Mr Grogan said that people should continue to take heed of the health advisory from Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service. Toi Te Ora’s advice is that the stream water quality grading is poor and is generally not suitable for swimming, particularly for the very young and those who are currently unwell. People should avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rainfall.

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“The results we have received show bacterial levels are elevated in some locations along the stream including Tureporepo and Kauaka,” Mr Grogan said.

“New techniques have been used to assess the sources of the bacteria and have shown the presence of faecal contamination from livestock, seagulls, waterfowl and human sources. There are a range of activities in the catchment which could be contributing bacteria including farmland, landfills, waste irrigation schemes, failing septic tanks or even recreational forest users ‘caught short’ near the stream.”

Mr Grogan explained that this was just one part of the overall investigation into the water quality of the Puarenga Stream.

“Bacterial contamination has been the main focus of the investigation, but we will continue to monitor for other contaminants. The next stage in the investigation will pull all of the information gathered together in the context of catchment activities. An examination of contaminant generation within the catchment, including that from consented activities, will also be made,” he said.

A further report on the investigation will be finalised within the next couple of months, which Council expects will provide initial recommendations to help improve the water quality of the stream.

Ends.

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