Sewage spills into har­bours

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - TOM CARNEGIE

Some Auck­land beaches will not be safe for swim­ming for up to five days af­ter heavy rain caused sewage to over­flow into the city’s har­bours, a bi­ol­o­gist says.

A Water­care spokes­woman said there were 41 waste­water over­flow points in Auck­land’s in­ner-city beaches, a num­ber of which had been in use fol­low­ing heavy rain at the week­end.

‘‘This is due to sig­nif­i­cant amounts of stormwa­ter en­ter­ing the net­work fol­low­ing heavy rain.’’

Be­tween 9am on Fri­day and 9am Satur­day, Auck­land recorded its wettest March day on record since 1959 with 100mm of rain fall­ing due to a low pres­sure sys­tem dubbed the Tas­man Tempest by Niwa.

Auck­land Coun­cil rec­om­mends that peo­ple avoid swim­ming at beaches for up to 48 hours af­ter heavy rain.

But waste­water bi­ol­o­gist Gemma Tolich Allen said the 48 hour rule should be treated as a min­i­mum amount of time fol­low­ing an ex­treme weather event such as the Tas­man Tempest.

‘‘It is a guessti­mate really. In some places I would say it would not be un­til four to five days un­til the con­tam­i­nants are dis­persed,’’ she said.

The main con­tam­i­nants in waste­water were fe­cal mat­ter, she said.

Tolich Allen said the main health risk from waste­water dis­charged at beaches came from con­sum­ing shell­fish near the over­flow points.

Swim­ming in a con­tam­i­nated area could also cause gas­troen­teri­tis if wa­ter was in­gested and bathers were at risk of eye and ear in­fec­tions, she said.

Kerry Martin, who op­er­ates the One­hunga la­goon ca­ble wake­board park, filmed waste­water spew­ing out of a Water­care la­goon over­flow site on Sun­day.

‘‘The lid of the over­flow was surf­ing around on the top of it, that has to be some pretty high pres­sure to make that hap­pen,’’ Martin said.

Jim Jackson, chair of the Manukau Har­bour En­hance­ment So­ci­ety, said the over­flows oc­curred be­cause Auck­land city had a com­bined stormwa­ter and waste­water sys­tem.

On March 6 two out of 17 cen­tral Auck­land beaches were deemed un­safe for swim­ming - Me­ola Reef and Cox’s Bay.

Turn to page 3 to read more about Auck­land’s waste­water dilemma

TOM CARNEGIE/FAIR­FAX NZ

Kerry Martin.

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