Annual water quality testing of popular swimming spots at Taranaki beaches, rivers and streams has started for the summer.
Taranaki Regional Council started monitoring microbiological water quality at 13 coastal swimming spots on Thursday 12 November.
The Council’s Director of Environment Gary Bedford says monitoring is carried out during summer each year to measure the quality against national guidelines for recreational use of water and to show long-term trends.
Staff will continue taking water samples from November until March.
Last summer 156 water samples at beaches were collected and analysed, and none revealed bacteria levels above the Ministry for the Environment ‘Action’ level.
The results showed that coastal water quality was generally very good. Notably, Waitara East, Waitara West and Urenui beaches recorded their best water quality in 20 years of monitoring, with the lowest or equal lowest enterococci median counts.
Oakura (surf club) and Ohawe recorded the highest bacteria counts (though still well below guideline limits). At Oakura, water quality was influenced by fresh water from two streams that shifted their course across the beach closer to the monitoring point.
The Council is also monitoring water quality at popular recreational river spots between November and April. Last season, testing of 16 freshwater recreation spots in the region showed 86 per cent of samples were within MfE guidelines. DNA testing has shown that water fowl is a significant source of bacterial contamination at the sites that exceed the guidelines.
The Council’s 2014-15 beach bathing and recreational fresh water monitoring reports are available at tinyurl.com/TRC4a.