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Monitoring Information

Bay of Plenty Regional Council monitors more than 80 popular coastal, river and lake recreation sites from October to March for faecal contamination (bacterial monitoring) and from October to June for toxin-forming algae species (algal bloom monitoring). Monitoring of faecal contamination indicators will recommence in October 2014.

Samples of water are analysed for faecal indicator bacteria. These bacteria, from warm blooded animals like cows and sheep, can indicate that disease-causing organisms (bacteria and viruses) are likely to be in the water.

Different indicator bacteria are checked for depending on the site:

  • Enterococci is the indicator bacteria used for marine waters.
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the indicator bacteria used for freshwater monitoring

Weekly or bi-weekly sampling is carried out and the Swimming Water Quality map is updated. Other sites are tested less frequently.

For information on the monitoring of the Rena oil spill follow the link to Rena Environmental Monitoring

For more information on health impacts and symptoms from accidentally coming into contact with contaminated water, please follow this link to the Toi te Ora Public Health website. You can also visit their site for information about health protection.

If you wish to know more about recreational water quality in your district, please contact Bay of Plenty Regional Council or Toi Te Ora Public Health.

The information is provided to ensure that the public are informed of the microbiological health risk of swimming at beaches in time for them to make informed decisions about whether to swim.

This information is gathered by Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Health warnings are issued by the Medical Officer of Health at Toi Te Ora Public Health.

The guidelines for water monitoring are the Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas published by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Health in 2003.

Grading History

Each site is given a grade, which is based on the last five years of monitoring data from the site, and catchment characteristics such as land use, discharges and climate.

Very Good

Location has very good water quality and unlikely to have direct sources of faecal contamination. Considered satisfactory for swimming at all times, and therefore may not be monitored on a regular basis.

Good

Satisfactory for swimming most of the time. Exceptions may include following rainfall.

These sites are monitored regularly throughout the summer season and warning signs will be erected if water quality deteriorates.

Sites within this category are considered to have generally good water quality. On occasions (such as after high rainfall) there may be an increased risk of contamination from run-off. Such sites receive run-off from one or more of the following sources and may contain animal or human faecal material:

  • river discharges impacted by tertiary treated wastewater, combined sewer overflows, intensive agricultural/rural catchments, feral bird/animal populations
  • river discharges impacted by; run-off from low-intensity agricultural/urban/rural catchment
  • stormwater not contaminated by sewage.
  • direct discharges from low intensity agriculture.

Fair

Generally satisfactory for swimming, though there are many potential sources of faecal material. Caution should be taken during periods of high rainfall, and swimming avoided if water is discoloured. Sites are monitored weekly and warning signs erected if water quality deteriorates.

Water quality tests and assessment of potential contamination sources indicate beaches within this category are considered to have generally fair water quality. However, events such as high rainfall increase the risk of contamination levels from run-off. Such sites receive run-off from one or more of the following sources and may contain animal or human faecal material:

  • river discharges impacted by tertiary-treated wastewater, combined sewer overflows, sewer overflows, intensive agricultural/rural catchments, significant feral bird/animal populations
  • river discharges impacted by run-off from low-intensity agricultural/urban/rural catchment
  • direct discharges from stormwater not contaminated by sewage, boat moorings or marinas
  • direct discharges from low-intensity agriculture.

Poor

Generally not okay for swimming, as indicated by historical results. Swimming should be avoided, particularly by the very young, the very old and those with compromised immunity. Permanent warning signs may be erected at these sites, although councils may monitor these sites weekly and post temporary warnings.

Water quality tests and assessment of potential contamination sources indicate beaches within this category are considered to have generally poor water quality. These sites receive run-off from one or more of the following sources and may contain animal or human faecal material:

  • tertiary treated wastewater
  • urban stormwater, intensive agriculture, unrestricted stock access, dense bird populations
  • low-intensity agriculture, marinas or boat moorings, urban stormwater not contaminated by sewage
  • river discharges containing untreated/ primary/secondary treated wastewater or on-site waste treatment systems river discharges impacted by tertiary treated wastewater, combined sewer overflows, intensive agricultural/rural catchments, feral bird/animal populations.

Very Poor

Avoid swimming, as there are direct discharges of faecal material. Permanent signage will be erected at the beach stating that swimming is not recommended.

Water-quality tests and assessment of potential contamination sources indicate beaches within this category are considered to have very poor water quality. These sites receive run-off from one or more of the following sources and may contain animal or human faecal material:

  • untreated/primary/secondary treated wastewater
  • on-site waste treatment systems
  • tertiary treated wastewater
  • urban stormwater, intensive agriculture, unrestricted stock access, dense bird populations
  • river discharges containing untreated/ primary/secondary treated wastewater or on-site waste treatment systems.

Follow-up

There is not sufficient information to grade this site or results are unexpected requiring further investigation.