Horizons swim spots to be treated with caution following week’s rain

Improved weather is forecast for parts of the region this weekend however, due to the recent heavy rainfall the Manawatū-Whanganui Region has experienced Horizons Regional Council is recommending people stay out of freshwater and coastal swim spots for at least the next three days.

Horizons environmental monitoring scientist Kelly Le Quesne says coastal and river sites are unsuitable for swimming as flooding events increases contamination in water.
“Faecal contamination in water is measured by testing for E.coli in our freshwater sites and Enterococci in our coastal sites. These indicator bacteria can increase significantly with high rainfall as contaminants from urban and rural settings are washed into waterways,” says Ms Le Quesne.
“Horizons monitors 80 swim spots across the region on a weekly basis for water quality at these sites however, it is also important the public treat all floodwater as contaminated.
Water quality samples from freshwater swim spots are sent to an independent accredited lab for testing, with results being made available within in 1-3 days on the Land Air Water Aoteroa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz.
“If any lakes or river sites return a sample that exceeds the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for bacteria we update LAWA as soon as the results come in with a red flag.
“If any of our coastal sites return a red result for Enterococci (greater than 280 Enterococci per 100mL) we resample the swim spot within 24 hours.
“If the site results in another exceedance or red result, our team will put up a no swim sign at the main entrance of that swim spot.
“This is not done on the first red sample at coastal sites because the national guidance requires us to confirm the trend prior to putting up ‘no swim’ signs. We will not remove signage until the trend returns to safer levels.
“Even if LAWA is showing a swim spot is suitable for swimming you should still check the water when you get there.
“Check the water is clear, this means that you can see into the water. Check there is no debris (e.g. rocks, branches) especially after a rain event but also be cautious of how fast flowing and unpredictable water can be. 
“If the water smells odd or is a strange colour (e.g. brown) it should be avoided. In general, do not go swimming within 3 days of rain and treat all flood water as contaminated.
“If you become sick after swimming call Public Health.
“If you do suspect a site is contaminated you can also call our pollution hotline on freephone 0508 800 800