Be informed before taking the plunge

Taranaki people wondering where best to take a dip over summer can check the Taranaki Regional Council’s online maps showing latest water-quality monitoring results.

The Council’s Director-Environment Quality, Gary Bedford, says the maps show whether a site is considered safe for swimming according to national guidelines for marine and freshwater recreational areas.

The Council is monitoring 13 Taranaki beaches and 16 popular freshwater swimming sites over the summer months. To see the latest results, scroll to the Environmental Data Map on the Council’s home page, www.trc.govt.nz, and select ‘Freshwater’ or ‘Coastal water’ recreational quality from the drop-down list.

District councils use the TRC’s monitoring to inform the public of the health risk, based on the national guidelines and the advice of the Medical Officer of Health. The status of popular swimming spots is listed on district council websites and the councils manage signs at the sites to advise people if it’s currently safe to swim.

“Last year, the summer monitoring programme showed that coastal sites were consistently good with all sites meeting the swimming guidelines apart from one sample at one site. And freshwater sites were mostly good, with wildfowl and gulls responsible for the contamination at the two worst sites, which are both urban,” says Gary Bedford.

When considering whether it’s safe to swim, people should also use their own observations at any beach or freshwater site.

Mr Bedford says regardless of the latest monitoring results, any swimming spot or beach can be unsuitable to swim at from time to time and strongly advises people not to swim for at least three days after heavy or prolonged rainfall if the water is obviously murky.