Up­grade for wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - HAN­NAH MARTIN

Auck­land swim­mers will get re­al­time in­for­ma­tion on wa­ter qual­ity at the city’s beaches, start­ing this sum­mer.

On Thurs­day, mayor Phil Goff an­nounced that an up­grade to the coun­cil’s wa­ter qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, Safeswim, would go live from Novem­ber 1.

The up­graded pro­gramme would be a New Zealand first, giv­ing Auck­lan­ders real-time in­for­ma­tion on where and when it was safe to swim.

It was im­por­tant to be trans­par­ent and hon­est with the public as wa­ter qual­ity at Auck­land beaches was ’’worse than we would like to be­lieve,’’ Goff said.

‘‘Peo­ple have a right to know, and [coun­cil] have an obli­ga­tion not just to warn them about poor qual­ity but get on and tackle the causes of it.’’

For ex­am­ple, there were 70 sites along the west­ern isth­mus area - from the CBD to Pt Che­va­lier and Te Atatu - where waste wa­ter was dis­gorged into streams and the coast be­tween 25 and 60 times a year at each site, Goff said.

‘‘That is a huge prob­lem. It’s a not a new prob­lem, but time we dealt with it.’’

While the cur­rent wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem was com­pli­ant with New Zealand na­tional stan­dards set in 2003, these were not ‘‘fit for pur­pose’’, Goff said.

Cur­rently the public could ac­cess in­for­ma­tion about the qual­ity of wa­ter at a beach but by the time they were read­ing it the in­for­ma­tion was al­ready out of date, he said.

‘‘The new sys­tem is set to be 20 times more ac­cu­rate than we have been op­er­at­ing.’’

Safeswim cov­ers 83 beaches in the greater Auck­land re­gion, with 69 mon­i­tored reg­u­larly.

A real-time alert would in­form the public of ‘‘un­pre­dictable risk events’’ as soon as they were de­tected, such as sewage over­flows or shark sight­ings.

Safeswim would also mea­sure wave and wind con­di­tions, tides, rips and the pres­ence of jel­ly­fish.

The root prob­lem - waste­water and stormwa­ter over­flow - was not new but Auck­lan­ders needed to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it now, Goff said.

The Safeswim up­grade was part of a larger plan by the coun­cil and Water­care to clean up Auck­land’s beaches, Goff said.

‘‘If you’re talk­ing about ‘100 per cent pure New Zealand’ at some stage you have to ei­ther change the brand­ing, or start walk­ing the talk’’.

SI­MON SMITH/STUFF

Safeswim cov­ers 83 beaches in the greater Auck­land re­gion, with 69 mon­i­tored reg­u­larly.

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