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No-go zones span area

Children diving into the Waipoua River last summer. PHOTO/FILE

All river swimming spots in Wairarapa are already unsafe to swim in, Land Air and Water Aotearoa says.

All swim spots on its ‘Can I swim here?’ map have been marked as unsafe to enter with the exception of Waipoua River at Colombo Rd bridge, where caution was advised.

Riversdale Beach and Castlepoint have the all-clear for swimming.

Greater Wellington Regional Council senior environmental adviser Sheryl Miller said, “it’s really important that water users check online if it’s safe to swim, as this has the most reliable and up to date information, rather than referring to the long term grades of a site”.

“These online alerts reflect the conditions of the site on a particular day, so it will tell you if there are changes in the water quality due to weather and incidents.”

Miller said even if swimming spots had typically excellent water quality, they could experience spikes in faecal contamination, especially after heavy rainfall.

“To keep safe, we recommend people avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rainfall, this gives sufficient time for contaminants to be flushed away,” Miller said.

This time last year the Times-Age reported that a swimming ban had been extended to the entire Waipoua River.

GWRC had announced last year that 80 per cent of the riverbed had been covered in algae and there was a constant stream of floating and detached mats.

Twelve sites in the Wellington region now have ‘poor’ long-term grades, which means that they have higher levels of contamination five per cent or more of the time.

A ‘poor’ long term grade for a site does not necessarily mean the community shouldn’t swim there, but it does indicate there is a higher risk of illness to swimmers than a site with a better grade.

GWRC monitors and reports on 88 freshwater and coastal sites throughout the region to predict their water quality risk status.

This programme uses a risk-based model to predict how safe it is to swim at a spot in real-time and produce up-to-date alerts twice a day.

GWRC urged the community to check the LAWA website for water quality before they swam.

Water quality information can be found at lawa.org.nz/explore-data/swimming.

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