Beach wa­ter risk lev­els are on­line

Kaikoura Star - - CLASSIFIED INDEX -

The Maunga­maunu point beach area has the clean­est wa­ter of Kaik­oura’s beaches, ac­cord­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing web­site Land, Air, Wa­ter Aotearoa (Lawa).

The web­site pro­vides a sea­sonal guide to beaches’ wa­ter qual­ity based on the last three years of mon­i­tor­ing as well as the re­sults of weekly beach test­ing.

Maunga­maunu surf area and South Bay rate a ‘ Very Low Risk,’ with less than 1 per cent risk of ill­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to the web­site, Jimmy Armer’s beach has a mod­er­ate risk, with be­tween 5 and 10 per cent risk of ill­ness, and Peketa beach also car­ried a mod­er­ate risk la­bel.

The web­site aims to rate the risk of in­fec­tion from con­tact with the wa­ter, cal­cu­lated from bac­te­ria (en­te­ro­cocci) data col­lected over the last three years.

This com­pares with Sum­ner Beach in Christchurch, rated as low risk, be­tween 1 and 5 per cent risk.

Four­teen per cent of beaches mon­i­tored are clas­si­fied as high risk and the re­main­der are within ac­cept­able lim­its.

In­for­ma­tion on beach wa­ter qual­ity at more than 350 beaches is on­line at Lawa.org.nz.

The web­site has pro­vided data on water­way qual­ity for some time, but this is the first time it has pro­vided any mon­i­tor­ing of beaches.

Auck­land Coun­cil se­nior marine sci­en­tist Dr Jar­rod Walker said it was im­por­tant that peo­ple could swim with­out get­ting sick from con­tam­i­nated wa­ter.

‘‘ By re­view­ing bac­te­ria lev­els at beaches over time, Lawa al­lows us to as­sess to what ex­tent the wa­ter at our beaches is af­fected by bac­te­ria and whether this poses a health risk to the pub­lic,’’ he said.

Based on the last three years of en­te­ro­cocci data, Walker said that the majority of mon­i­tored beaches were suit­able for swimming.

‘‘ Sixty- four per cent of mon­i­tored beaches are clas­si­fied as hav­ing a low or very low risk of caus­ing in­fec­tion or ill­ness. Four­teen per cent are clas­si­fied as high risk and the re­main­der are within ac­cept­able lim­its.’’

As well as the sea­sonal guide, Lawa also pro­vides the re­sults of the most re­cent weekly beach mon­i­tor­ing, al­low­ing users to see the lat­est bac­te­ria read­ing and how this might af­fect cur­rent suit­abil­ity for swimming.

Read to­gether, the sea­sonal in­di­ca­tor and weekly mon­i­tor­ing re­sults give peo­ple a good idea of the wa­ter qual­ity. How­ever, Dr Walker says peo­ple still need to think twice be­fore swimming after heavy rain.

‘‘Even a low risk beach can be un­suit­able to swim at from time to time and we rec­om­mend that you avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rain­fall.’’

He also ad­vised peo­ple to re­mem­ber Lawa pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on wa­ter qual­ity but other haz­ards may be present.

‘‘Our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment is a great play­ground but can be un­pre­dictable. Peo­ple need to be aware of the other po­ten­tial risks such as rips or cur­rents be­fore jumping in.’’

Lawa was de­vel­oped by New Zealand re­gional and uni­tary coun­cils, the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment and the Cawthron In­sti­tute with the support of the Tin­dall Foun­da­tion to pro­vide New Zealan­ders with more ac­ces­si­ble in­for­ma­tion about nat­u­ral re­sources.

The web­site was launched in March with in­for­ma­tion on river wa­ter qual­ity at over 1110 sites around the coun­try.

‘‘ Peo­ple want to know more about what’s go­ing on in their en­vi­ron­ment and the re­sponse to the river data avail­able on Lawa has been re­ally pos­i­tive,’’ said Fran Wilde, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand Re­gional Sec­tor Group Chair.

‘‘It’s great to be able to build on the in­for­ma­tion avail­able and move into the marine en­vi­ron­ment and we’re ex­cited to pro­vide beach in­for­ma­tion on Lawa in time for sum­mer when our beaches are at their busiest,’’

Wilde said work on other en­vi­ron­men­tal in­di­ca­tors for Lawa was on­go­ing and the web­site would even­tu­ally show in­for­ma­tion on wa­ter quan­tity, air qual­ity, land and bio­di­ver­sity, as well as more fresh and coastal wa­ter qual­ity data.

Lawa will also con­trib­ute to a new na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port­ing regime be­ing de­signed by the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment and Statis­tics New Zealand.

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