Recreational water quality sampling has found that, of the 52 monitored freshwater swimming sites, 12 have improved a grade, and four declined.
During swimming season (November to March), Environment Canterbury assesses the health risks from faecal contamination at popular swimming sites around the region.
“We test and grade popular places that people swim in Canterbury. This year 12 sites have improved. The year before, 10 sites improved and the year before that only five improved, so the trend is going in the right direction,” Environment Canterbury chief scientist Dr Tim Davie said.
“The improvement demonstrates the hard work of landowners to exclude stock and protect waterways by planting and fencing. Reduced runoff from two dry summers has helped as well.”
Monitoring Programme water quality grading
The monitoring programme follows the national guidance provided by the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Health. Sites graded ‘very good’, ‘good’, and ‘fair’ are considered suitable for contact recreation. Sites graded ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ are unsuitable for contact recreations.
“The Waihi River at Waihi Gorge is a great example of on-the-ground actions influencing water quality outcomes; fencing upstream of the site since March 2016 has resulted in the site improving and is graded swimmable this year”.
In 2009 The Canterbury Water Management Strategy set a target of 80% of Canterbury freshwater sites being graded swimmable by 2015 which we have yet to meet but we are close and heading in the right direction.
Overall our aim is to have 100% of Canterbury sites swimmable and a continued improvement towards “Very Good” grades across the region.