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Water quality for contact recreation

Why we monitor water quality for contact recreation

When water quality is poor, recreational activity such as swimming, surfing and water-skiing can be unsafe (water quality standards for shellfish gathering are more stringent). Sometimes ‘bad bugs’ from human and animal faeces – micro-organisms such as protozoans, bacteria and viruses - can get into waterways. These ‘bad bugs’ can cause illness in people exposed to them.

By monitoring coastal water quality Waikato Regional Council can identify beaches that may not be suitable for contact recreation. Then we can work towards managing the sources of contaminants, such as runoff from land. It is the role of district councils to notify the public when beaches are unsuitable for swimming.

Waikato Regional Council historically monitored a representative sample of swimming beaches around the region to determine how good the water quality is for contact recreation (such as swimming, surfing and water skiing).

What's happening?

Coastal water quality for contact recreation (such as swimming) is usually satisfactory or better. Often, it is excellent. Occasionally, some beaches have high bacteria levels.

Generally, our coastal waters receive less bacterial contaminants than our rivers and lakes. Also, on the coast any contaminants are often quickly diluted and dispersed by tidal flushing and waves. Because of this, contaminant levels in our coastal waters are often much lower than in our rivers. However after heavy rain, contaminant levels from run off are likely to be higher.

>> Find out more about these data and trends