Upgraded water quality guide considered

Publish Date : 10 Feb 2017
Wenderholm Regional Park
Auckland is to consider upgrades to the Safeswim water quality monitoring programme at the council's 14 February committee

A significant upgrade of Auckland’s Safeswim beach water quality monitoring programme is being considered by Auckland Council.

Monitoring programmes have been in place at beaches in various parts of Auckland for the past 18 years, and the current reporting of risk to public health the council undertakes significantly exceeds national guidelines.

Committee to consider

The upgrade to Safeswim will be considered on Tuesday (14 February) by the council’s Environment and Community Committee chaired by Councillor Penny Hulse.

"Water quality at Auckland beaches is generally good and our reporting already exceeds national guidelines," Cr Hulse says.

"However advances in the science surrounding water quality mean we are now able to further strengthen and enhance the accuracy of reporting potential health risks.

"Auckland now has the opportunity to break new ground in New Zealand by implementing a modelling and forecasting approach which would provide water quality information in advance of use, allowing beach users to make informed decisions on when and where to go swimming.

"This comes as the Auckland Council group invests in new and upgraded wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and adopts rules and practices to reduce contaminants at source.

"The council is also facilitating water sensitive design in urban developments, is incentivising the upgrade of septic tank systems to reduce pollution in West Coast lagoons and is empowering local communities to care for local waterways."

The proposed upgrade

Grant Barnes is the council’s General Manager Licensing and Compliance Services.

"We have developed a sophisticated model that predicts faecal-indicating bacteria by establishing a relationship between rainfall, wind, tide and the bacteria itself," Mr Barnes says.

"In addition, we would promote beach information across multiple communication channels to raise awareness of forecast water quality."

The proposal follows an independent audit commissioned in September 2016 and a review undertaken in 2011.

The cost of the initiative would come from existing budgets, including an initial capital investment of $325,000.

The current programme monitors 69 Auckland beaches and three fresh water sites.

More information

You can listen to committee chair Cr Penny Hulse explaining the proposal on RNZ's Morning Report.

More details about the proposed upgrade to the Safeswim programme are available on the committee agenda, item 16

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