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Health warnings lifted at four Manukau beaches

24 October 2018

Red flags lifted: Four Manukau Harbour beaches safe to swim
Long-term public health warnings for four beaches in the Manukau Harbour have been lifted and the beaches will be swimmable this summer.

The four beaches – Armour Bay, Taumanu East, Clarks Beach and Weymouth Beach – are now considered low risk for most of the time, with high-risk periods only occurring around some rainfall events.

Mayor Phil Goff said, “Swimming at our beaches is a cornerstone of the kiwi summer. It’s fantastic that we can today tell Aucklanders that four beaches which have been no-go areas, some of them for nearly 20 years, are open for summer.

“It’s important to Aucklanders to be able to swim at their local beaches. Removing the historical health warnings for four beaches in the Manukau Harbour is a huge win for beachgoers this summer, and recognition of the efforts of the council and our communities who are working hard together to clean up Auckland’s beaches.”

“The billions we are investing in our water infrastructure to improve water quality grabs the headlines, but it is the local efforts helped by the water quality targeted rate that are delivering immediate improvements to water quality across our region.

“It is remarkable that we can now remove the permanent public health warning that has plagued Weymouth Beach for nearly 20 years. It is recognition of the hard work of Auckland Council, Watercare and Manurewa Local Board to identify illegal wastewater connections, increase enforcement and fix damaged waste and storm water pipes.

“Working with our local communities and more precise and up-to-the-minute understanding of our water quality through Safeswim has also enabled the removal of permanent public health warnings at Armour Bay, Taumanu East and Clarks Beach,” said Mayor Goff.

Long-term public health warnings have been in place for up to 20 years at a number of Manukau Harbour beaches where historic monitoring has shown frequent exceedances of public health guidelines. Although long-term public health warnings are being removed, there may be instances where Safeswim advises against swimming at these beaches because of localised issues brought about by rain and storms, or damage to infrastructure. This is why it’s important to check before you swim at Safeswim.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “Safeswim has provided us with the most precise and up-to-the-minute understanding of water quality in our city’s history. It has helped us target and tackle serious issues at our most loved beaches, quickly and in a systematic manner.

“Improving the swimmability of our beaches won’t happen overnight, but with the Water Quality Targeted Rate delivering $452 million investment in fixing water pollution we are going to achieve in 10 years what would normally have taken us 30. It’s great that we are making more beaches safer for Aucklanders to enjoy."

Manurewa Local Board Chair Angela Dalton says the removal of the warning at Weymouth Beach is great news for the community and a tribute to the leadership of Manurewa Local Board in its advocacy to the council group (Auckland Council and Watercare).

“We are delighted locals will finally be able to swim at Weymouth this summer without risking their health. The removal of the warning from Weymouth Beach after 18 years is particularly significant because it represents genuine improvement in water quality.”

Safeswim Programme Manager Nick Vigar explains, “A lot of effort has been spent identifying and fixing the issues causing wastewater contamination of stormwater discharges at Weymouth Beach.

“Sufficient monitoring data has now been collected to confirm that our interventions have succeeded in significantly lowering the risk, and that the long-term warning is no longer required.”

Mr Vigar also considers the removal of the long-term warning at Clarks Beach is important, but for very different reasons.

“The work at Clarks Beach is a real success story of collaboration between the council and local community.”

“We’ve been thankful to have the support of the local community to collect a lot of water quality data in a short timeframe, and this has allowed us to to develop an accurate water quality model very rapidly. Mobilising sampling staff to far-flung beaches is time consuming and costly. With the help of some very committed volunteers from the community we collected the necessary water quality samples rapidly, and at very low cost to ratepayers.

"Clarks Beach is an excellent model of how a highly engaged community can work with the council to achieve great outcomes. Safeswim will be looking to use this model in other parts of the region as it helps creates a sense of understanding and ownership of local issues that is so important to resolving the issues.

"Work continues to be carried out at several other beaches across the region to better understand and predict the risk, and to identify and remedy the causes of poor water quality.

“We recognise how important water quality is to Aucklanders. The council is responding and putting a large amount of work into collecting data to get the modelling right. Where we know the public health risk is high, the council family is working hard to identify and remedy the causes of the issues.

“It’s great news to have these warnings removed, and there is a lot more work underway, to deliver similar outcomes right around the region,” says Mr Vigar.


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