Dirtiest swimming spots revealed
There ain’t no cure for the summertime poos.
People again risked mingling with human sewage over summer in two Wellington bays, it was revealed in the annual report card on regional swimming spots.
Island Bay and Owhiro Bay received D grades in Greater Wellington Regional Council’s report, announced on Thursday, which means people had a greater than 10 per cent chance of becoming ill from swimming there. Three Porirua areas also received the same grade.
Senior environmental scientist Summer Greenfield said the Wellington bays had been the city’s problem spots for several years.
‘‘We’ve done a few investigations at Owhiro Bay in particular, and sewage contamination is definitely an issue there ... and similar for Island Bay.’’
The human sewage was not necessarily visible to the naked eye, with the contamination often coming from leaking sewer lines high in the catchment.
Porirua’s worst sites are the south end of Titahi Bay, Plimmerton Beach and western Onepoto in Porirua Harbour.
The best sites are Pukerua Bay, Karehana Bay, Onehunga Bay and the entrance to Pauatahanui Inlet, which have an overall grade of B and a low risk of illness.
There were ‘‘really quite high’’ bacteria counts in all the D-grade bays after rainfall, so the council urged people not to swim for a couple of days afterwards.
Greenfield said monitoring of all popular swimming spots was done weekly during summer.
It measured the amount of bacteria that make people sick, like campylobacter and giardia, in rivers and beaches.
Rainfall made water quality worse, she said, so the dry summer made for better water quality in general.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was undertaking rolling sewer main upgrades in the bay areas.
The council worked with Greater Wellington on the problem – when bacterial spikes were detected, the city council looked to hunt down sewer MacLean said.
One of the best water quality spots is Princess Bay, in Houghton Bay, which received an A grade meaning there was ‘‘very low risk’’ or less than 1 per cent chance of getting sick from the water.
The region’s other D-graded swimming spots are in the lower reaches of the Hutt River, Wainuiomata River, and Wairarapa’s Ruamahanga River and Riversdale Lagoon.
However, the dry summer of 2015 and 2016 meant that water quality was generally better. leaks,