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Region’s beaches and rivers in the red

All of Wairarapa’s popular swim spots have been marked as unsafe by Land, Air, and Water Aotearoa [Lawa], after recent heavy rain.

They were coded ‘red’ on Lawa’s map yesterday, meaning predicted or monitored results indicate the sites have a high health risk and are unlikely to meet national water quality guidelines for swimming.

Lawa said the current status for many sites combines the predicted risk for E. coli and the latest toxic algae monitoring result.

Most toxic algae have been washed out of the rivers by recent rain, only to be replaced by a risk of E. coli contamination.

Heavy rain flushes contaminants from urban and rural land into waterways, and Lawa advises people not to swim for two-to-three days after heavy or prolonged rain – even at sites that generally have good water quality.

“Check that the water is clean and clear before taking a dip,” Lawa said.

Lawa’s data and predictions are updated daily.

Meanwhile, Masterton’s Te Ore Ore swim spot in the Ruamahanga River has earned a poor long-term grade for the estimated risk of campylobacter infection, with more than a 5 per cent chance of occurrence at least 5 per cent of the time.

Both Riversdale and Castlepoint beaches were also marked as unsuitable for swimming yesterday because of a predicted Enterococci status.

Enterococci is a bacteria found naturally in the gut of humans and animals, including mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles.

“Enterococci are useful indicators of the extent of faecal contamination of recreational waters, particularly marine bathing sites,” Lawa said.

    The status of the beaches is updated hourly on Lawa’s website: www.lawa.org.nz

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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