Swimmers advised to take care after significant rainfall

Horizons Regional Council is asking people to think twice before getting into the region’s waterways, with heavy rainfall likely making them unsuitable for swimming or collecting kai.

Warm weather is forecast for the next seven days, likely making a dip in a swimming hole or at a beach tempting.
But indicators that determine the grading of swim spots – E.coli for freshwater sites and Enterococci at coastal sites – can increase significantly after high rainfall, as contaminates from urban and rural settings are washed into waterways.
Horizons environmental monitoring scientist and swim spot monitoring lead Kelly Le Quesne says contact with water where those organisms are present in sufficient quantities can lead to conditions such as respiratory illness, gastroenteritis, and ear and skin infections.
“Generally, people should not go swimming within three days of heavy rain. If water smells odd or is a strange colour, it should be avoided,” says Ms Le Quesne.
“Check the water is clear, meaning you can see into the water.”
Horizons continues to monitor more than 80 swim spots across the region, with updates test results due later in the week.
“Results are received within 48 hours and updated on the Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz, with interactive maps showing each swim spot tagged with a red, amber or green marker to indicate the week’s bacteria results.
“People can check the LAWA website for the most recent results and suitability for swimming at monitored sites.
“It is important, however, that people still check the water even if LAWA shows it is suitable for swimming.
“It is also important to remember things may have changed underwater since you were last at a swim spot, so check for large debris and remember that rivers and beaches can be unpredictable and deceptively strong. Do not enter the water alone, closely supervise children and keep out of the water if you are not a confident swimmer. You can find out more about keeping safe in and around rivers and beaches at Water Safety NZ.”
Horizons has been monitoring the weather since the weekend and wants to remind people to stay out of floodwater.
Floodwater can be harmful to human health as it can contain contaminants like faecal matter and other hazardous materials.
“People should avoid all floodwater, including not driving vehicles into floodwater. Put safety first and do not take any chances,” says Le Quesne.