Staying safe at your swim spot

Horizons Regional Council is encouraging people to go out and enjoy the Region’s rivers this summer by providing information to help them make sensible choices.

Horizons provides water quality information showing weekly monitoring results for freshwater spots and beaches along the coast.

Horizons Regional Council spokesman for water quality Barry Gilliland says that safe swimming at beaches and rivers is about more than just water quality.

“There are potential risks from bacteria and cyanobacteria growths in rivers and streams, but water hazards like strong currents and submerged logs pose as much, if not more risk to swimmers.”

This year a new web page is being trialled that has regularly updated health risk information, rather than weekly updates at several popular swimming spots.

“This means that river users should be able to check up to date information before leaving home or by smartphone at the swimming spot.”

“The main problem with weekly sampling is that the sample is not always reflective of the water quality for the whole week, especially if it has rained.”

Horizons has installed signs at several popular swim spots around the Region for this summer season that offer simple ways for the public to assess water quality. 

“If the water looks clear and it’s a sunny day you should be good to go, but if the water looks murky after recent rain then we advise people wait until it clears before swimming.”

Mr Gilliland says that in addition to monitoring swim spots for E. Coli Horizons also monitors blue-green algae slimes which can pose a risk to people and animals and cause a musty smell during extended periods of low flows.

“Again, it’s a judgment call on the public’s part and if you see black mat-like slimy growths on stones, it is best for you and your animal to stay out of the water.”