19 December 2016

Want to know what areas are safe for swimming in the Bay of Plenty? Now you can find out, with the launch of ‘Can I swim here?’ data on New Zealand’s leading environmental monitoring website.

The December 19 launch on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) website means people can check where the best swimming spots are in their region and how they rank for water quality.

It coincides with the start of Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s summer water quality testing. This annual monitoring of popular Bay swimming spots will continue until March 2017. Regional council environmental scientist Paul Scholes says it is undertaken every summer to check how safe each spot is for swimming.

“We regularly take samples between November and March, monitoring more than 50 river and stream, lake, beach and estuary sites. 

Water quality affects everyone, Paul says.  “While the Bay of Plenty’s water quality is generally good, bacteria can affect swimmability.”

To maintain or improve water quality is one of the regional council’s outcomes, and to help with monitoring it has appointed a dedicated person to monitor recreational waters to support the environmental science team over summer. Last year it also established a Water Programme of Action, which details activities and projects focused on managing the Bay of Plenty’s freshwater resources.

The ‘can I swim here’ data launch on LAWA means the website now features the latest swimmability data, as well as descriptions of the area surrounding each of the council’s monitoring sites.

LAWA provides online access to information about the quality and availability of New Zealand’s natural resources. Since launching in 2014, it has become a trusted source of environmental information that allows people to discover more about the quality of rivers. The website also displays data on air quality, rainfall and groundwater and is a collaborative effort between regional councils, the Cawthron Institute and the Ministry for the Environment. For more information visit www.lawa.org.nz.