Surf online before hitting the beach
Information on beach water quality at over 350 beaches around New Zealand is now accessible online from Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA). The website provides a seasonal guide to beach water quality based on the last three years of monitoring as well as the results of weekly beach testing.
“Beaches are a key part of many New Zealanders’ lifestyles and it’s important that people can swim without getting sick from contaminated water,” explains Dr Jarrod Walker, senior marine scientist at Auckland Council.
Based on the last three years of enterococci data, Dr Walker says that the majority of monitored beaches are suitable for swimming – 64 per cent of monitored beaches are classified as having a low or very low risk of causing infection or illness, 14 per cent are classified as high risk and the remainder are within acceptable limits.
As well as the seasonal guide, LAWA also provides the results of the most recent weekly beach monitoring, allowing users to see the latest bacteria reading and how this might affect current suitability for swimming.
Read together, the seasonal indicator and weekly monitoring results give people a good idea of the water quality. However, Dr Walker says people still need to think twice before swimming after heavy rain.
“Even a low risk beach can be unsuitable to swim at from time to time and we recommend that you avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rainfall.”
He also advised people to remember LAWA provides information on water quality but other hazards may be present such as rips or currents.
LAWA was developed by New Zealand regional and unitary councils, the Ministry for the Environment and the Cawthron Institute with the support of the Tindall Foundation to provide New Zealanders with more accessible information about natural resources.
Launched in March with information on river water quality at over 1110 sites around the country, the website will eventually show information on water quantity, air quality, land and biodiversity, as well as more fresh and coastal water quality data. n Check out lawa.org.nz
WATER QUALITY: Mangawhai is one of 350 beaches monitored around the country.