This summer, Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has teamed up with Canadian-based not-for-profit Swim Drink Fish to share New Zealand’s recreational water quality results with an international audience. The latest results collated and displayed by the LAWA website are now also available on the globally popular Swim Guide website and app, putting Kiwi summer swim spots on the world map.
Swim Guide provides free public access to water quality information for over 8,000 swim spots spanning 10 countries and now includes the most up-to-date results for New Zealand.
Principal Water Quality Scientist and LAWA Can I swim here? Project Lead Anna Madarasz-Smith said the LAWA affiliation with Swim Guide will help more people around the world discover New Zealand’s extraordinary beaches, rivers, and lakes.
“LAWA is focused on helping New Zealanders find where’s good to swim, but the question ‘Can I swim here?’ is also asked by visiting family, friends, and tourists. We’ve teamed up with Swim Guide to help holidaymakers get the information they need to stay safe while swimming in our great outdoors,” said Mrs Madarasz-Smith.
Over summer, environmental officers from New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils regularly monitor popular swim spots. The results are published on the LAWA website as soon as they are processed and now these results will also display on Swim Guide.
“New Zealand is home to beautiful waterways across all 16 regions of New Zealand and there are many popular swim spots suitable for swimming. However, some sites are more suitable than others and even sites that usually have great recreational water quality can be affected by heavy rain.
“For three summers, the ‘Can I swim here? topic on the LAWA website has been helping Kiwis decide where’s good to swim. It’s great to be able to increase the reach of our important public health information by providing the latest summer water quality monitoring results and warnings to Swim Guide,” said Ms Madarasz-Smith.
Swim Guide is popular in many countries including Australia and the USA; New Zealand’s first and third largest international visitor markets.
Swim Guide Program Manager Gabrielle Parent-Doliner said, “Over 1 million people a year access Swim Guide to find great places to swim and the information they need to protect their health from recreational water quality illnesses.
“To be effective, recreational water quality information must get into the hands of the public as quickly as possible. With LAWA as an affiliate and the new automated exchange of LAWA’s open recreational data to Swim Guide, we can offer a better service for New Zealanders and tourists looking to explore the country’s over 700 monitored swim sites,” said Ms Parent-Doliner. “For the first time, we are automating all recreational bathing data in a single country in one go, thanks to LAWA’s commitment to public access. This is a world first.”
LAWA and Swim Drink Fish are united in a mission to connect people to the environment by sharing environmental data. Swim Drink Fish has been working towards a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future since its inception in 2001 and LAWA has been making New Zealand’s environmental data and information open and accessible since 2014.
“We are proud to welcome LAWA and their unique open data project to the Swim Guide platform," said Mark Mattson, president of Swim Drink Fish. "There is growing demand around the world for real-time, easy to understand, accessible water quality data. LAWA is leading the way internationally when it comes to helping people connect with their local waters.”
New Zealand’s summer recreational water quality monitoring programmes are now active and up-to-date results are live on LAWA (www.lawa.org.nz/swim) and Swim Guide (www.theswimguide.org/beaches/new-zealand).