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Nelson region

Can I swim here?

Nelson’s swimming holes and beaches are regularly used by locals and visitors over summer. Bacteria levels are monitored at our recreational bathing water sites over summer to minimise the risk of illness from harmful water borne bacteria and viruses that may be present. Water quality sampling follows a schedule, which includes wet-weather rainfall days, providing sampling conditions are safe.

Bathing water quality in Nelson is generally very good. However, higher bacteria levels can occur from various sources such as wild birds, animals, farm stock and wastewater. An increase in bacteria often occurs after periods of rainfall, when river flow increases from land run-off and stormwater.

Nelson City Council reports weekly bacteria results to the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (NMDHB). Sites with elevated Red Action bacteria counts that have unexplained sources are re-sampled within 24 hours. The NMDHB is consulted on the potential sources of bacteria, the risk to public health and the appropriate action required, which may include public health warnings.

Nelson’s marine recreation sites at Tahunanui Beach, Cable Bay, Nelson Haven (Atawhai) and Monaco (Wharf) retain Good to Fair grades each year. Most exceedances can be explained by wet-weather effects, due to sampling when bathing sites are contaminated by storm water run off. Choppy seas driven by strong onshore winds also tends to re-mobilise sediment with bacteria, which can elevate bacteria counts.

The Maitai River bathing holes from Girlies Hole (Nile St), and Branford Park to Maitai Camp continue to show improved bacteria counts with (historical) Good to Fair suitability for recreation grades. The Wakapuaka River at Hira Reserve has a Fair suitability for recreation grade with occasional exceedances in recent years.

A health warning remains in place for the lower Maitai (inter-tidal estuarine zone) below Collingwood Street Bridge and for the Wakapuaka River at Paremata Flats Reserve warning people not to swim at these sites because of occasional high bacteria counts from various sources.

The annual recreation water quality scorecards can be downloaded from the council website here.

Monitored sites in the Nelson region

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