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Refreshed coastal water quality monitoring for summer

Waikato Regional Council is to continue with a refreshed summer water quality monitoring programme at open coast beaches used for recreation purposes.

Such monitoring was discontinued in 2009. Through Long Term Plan discussions in 2015, the council decided to reinvest in a coastal monitoring programme.

“The new work will help us build up a clearer picture of what’s happening now for water quality at coastal sites around the region that are popular for recreation,” said the council’s coastal science team leader Dr Hilke Giles.

The 2016-17 summer monitoring of open coast beaches will add to ongoing wider work that is building up a bigger picture of coastal issues.

Results have just been released of a survey snapshot of coastal river and stream mouth water quality at 18 sites on the Coromandel Peninsula during January and February last year. Some of these river and stream mouths were chosen because members of the public were interested in finding out what was going on there, while the council chose others to help it build up knowledge.

Last year’s survey and analysis of results was aimed at assessing the ecological health and suitability of the sites for contact recreation.

The survey looked at measures such as nutrient loads and turbidity as indicators of ecological health, as well as the presence of enterococci bacteria that can potentially affect human health if present in sufficient quantities. Results were compared to relevant guidelines for ecological health and contact recreation standards for people.

The results were very mixed ranging from some sites being within guidelines for various measures in all samples, while others exceeded some guidelines all of the time. Median enterococci bacteria concentrations over the sampling weeks were within guideline values at 13 of the 18 sites, with five above. The council stresses that the results for January-February last year are not necessarily indicative of what results would be if the survey was repeated now but point to where further investigation may be necessary.

“We are in the process of discussing the results and their implications with the Waikato DHB and Thames-Coromandel District Council. While we don’t have any major concerns as a council at this stage, we are working with the DHB and TCDC to ensure communities are receiving relevant information and advice,” said Dr Giles.

She said the regional council will be going back to some of the previously surveyed river and stream mouth sites this coming summer to do more targeted follow-up checks.

“This will be on top of us refreshing the monitoring of popular recreation sites in our coastal waters.”

The river and stream mouth sites surveyed over January and February 2015 were (going anticlockwise on the peninsula starting from the south-east) involved: Te Ramarama Stream, Otahu River, Pepe Stream, Graham’s Creek, Taiwawe Stream, Wigmore Stream, Purangi River, Taputapuatea Stream, Tarapatiki Stream, Tohetea Stream, Stewart Stream, Otama Stream, Kuaotunu River, Pitoone Stream, Whangarahi Stream, Manaia River, Te Mata Stream, Te Puru Stream.

Full survey results and analysis of them are available at http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/tr201607/

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