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High levels of E. coli remain in upper Taieri River

Media Release - 12 March 2014

Otago Regional Council (ORC) water quality samples taken recently from the upper Taieri River continue to show high levels of the bacteria E.coli.

ORC put up warning signs at popular swimming holes in the area several weeks ago and has been continually investigating the possible source of the E.coli.

ORC director environmental monitoring and operations Jeff Donaldson said staff had been tracking the river and its tributaries through properties in the area. They had also kayaked the river but had been unable to identify a definite source.

An aerial survey would be conducted this week and ORC staff would track the effects of the irrigation practices that operate in the area, Mr Donaldson said.

“We will also extend our weekly recreational sampling programme on the upper Taieri by another two months from the usual conclusion on 31 March, to help us understand what is happening in this catchment to cause this problem.”

Mr Donaldson said many factors can affect how much bacteria gets into a waterway.

However, extensive property inspections have shown that farmers in the area have generally adopted good water quality practices, including taking measures to keep stock out of waterways.

“Upper Taieri E.coli levels monitored as part of our weekly recreational sampling programme have fluctuated over the summer, and samples have not all been at alert levels, which has also made it difficult to pinpoint a single source,” Mr Donaldson said.

A public meeting is planned at Patearoa to present recent water quality results to landholders and discuss the possible causes of the E.coli spikes.

To find out when the water is safe to swim in, contact ORC or visit www.orc.govt.nz.

For more information contact

Jeff Donaldson
Director environmental monitoring and operations
ORC
Ph 03 474 0827 or 0274 357162

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