There’s a lot of commentary in the media about swimmability, which sometimes can be quite confusing. For example, high flows and floods during winter unfortunately means swimmable rivers 100 percent of the time will never be a reality. We recognise the importance of being well informed, and that is why every week during summer we will be monitoring the health of over 80 swim spots to provide you with reliable information on the potential health risks in our waterways. The good news is that Horizons’ swim spots are swimmable the majority of summer. Not only are these popular sites excellent for swimming, they often include picnic and camping areas, bush walks, and toilets, making them a great place to spend with family and friends. We encourage you to get out there and enjoy them.
To find out the current health of your favourite swim spot visit the Safe Swim Spots page.
We often hear about levels of bacteria (E.coli) or cyanobacteria as indicators of water quality but what are they? Why do we measure them and why do we need to be wary if they reach high levels?
Common sources of E.coli are untreated human wastewater discharges, stormwater run-off and animal waste. Too much E.coli means that the water is unsafe to drink or swim in and can cause infection. Cyanobacteria (commonly known as blue-green algae) inhabit all natural waters and usually only become a problem when they increase to high coverage,
forming excessive 'blooms', usually during summer when it's warm and river levels are stable. Cyanobacterial species are known to produce toxins that can be a threat to humans and animals if consumed or contracted during recreational activities so Horizons will always look for cyanobacteria when monitoring a swim spot.
In addition to swim spot monitoring, Horizons undertakes a number of programmes to proactively improve water quality. These include the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord, Horowhenua Lake Accord, One Plan, and working with city and district councils to ensure their wastewater treatment plants are performing as they should be, creating riparian strips (through planting) to absorb nutrients and filter run-off before it enters our waterways, and fencing streams and rivers to exclude livestock. We also have the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) which aims to reduce sediment (a source of E.coli and phosphorous) entering our rivers via run-off from the Region's hill country land. A Landcare Research report which assessed the impact of SLUI on sediment levels in the Region's rivers, was commissioned by Horizons in 2013. The closest scenario to how SLUI currently operates predicted the annual sediment load in rivers will reduce by 27 percent as a result of SLUI works by 2043.
While we understand there is always room for improvement, these activities are proactive measures that we know will pay off in the future.
Vote for your favourite summer swim spot and it will be in to win some extra love next year. Working alongside your city or district council, Horizons will spruce up the winning site – making your favourite spot the best spot to swim in the Region. Click on the image below to get to the poll and vote for your favourite now.
THE WINNER WAS MOSQUITO POINT IN WHANGANUI
From rafting the Rangitikei and picnicking in the Pohangina, to snorkelling at Scarborough and kicking back at Kai Iwi Beach, our Region is full of fantastic swim spots ready for you to enjoy this summer.
Plus we’re offering you the chance to swim and win. Simply post a pic of your favourite swim post to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts with #swiminourregion by 28 February 2017. Be sure to tag the Horizons Region location too, and you’re in to win an adventure package for four, up to the value of $1500.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DI SIMPSON