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Otago region

Can I swim here?

Together with the city and public health agencies, Otago Regional Council reports or advises on the suitability of water quality for recreation at  freshwater sites and coastal sites around the region.

Water is sampled weekly during the ‘Otago bathing season’ (from 1 December to the end of March) and the results are assessed against the national recreational water quality guidelines.

This helps the public make informed decisions about where it is safe to go swimming or participate in other forms of contact recreation (from a public health perspective).

Why we monitor water quality

Micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, are present in all natural water bodies. Water contaminated by faecal micro-organisms may pose a human health hazard, particularly if swallowed. Anybody can be affected, but small children, the elderly, and people already weakened by illness or fatigue are more likely to become ill from exposure to contaminated water.

The most common illnesses arising from exposure to contaminated water occur in the gastric-intestinal system, leading to symptoms like diarrhoea or vomiting, and infections of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. However, there are other potentially more harmful diseases such as giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, campylobacteriosis, and salmonellosis. Hepatitis A can be contracted from contaminants in the water and can lead to long-term health problems. Testing the water regularly for indicator bacteria and having the results on LAWA helps the public make informed decisions about where it is safe to go swimming.

Monitored sites in the Otago region

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