Green light to swim: Summer swim monitoring kicks off with good results across Otago

Media Release - 10 December 2020

Summer recreation water quality monitoring runs between December and the end of March every year.

The results of summer recreation monitoring this week are green across the board for Otago, indicating safe swimming conditions at 25 popular freshwater and coastal swimming spots around the region.

This is the first week of water quality sampling that runs throughout summer, with the results made available through the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) “Can I Swim Here” tool, at www.lawa.org.nz/swim.

ORC Senior Scientist – Water Quality Jason Augspurger said the results were a good reminder of the impact that weather can have on water quality.

“Rainfall is not the only factor in water quality, but it can be a big one. We’ve had a good few days without rain in Otago and we’re seeing that reflected in good water quality results throughout the region.

“Equally, this is a good reminder to avoid swimming for 2-3 days after heavy rainfall, as rain can wash contaminants off land and into waterways, which leads to water quality issues.”

Dr Augspurger recommended prospective swimmers check the LAWA website before taking a dip.

“Whatever the weather, it always pays to check the ‘Can I Swim Here?’ tool on LAWA’s website, which collects water quality data for swimming from across the whole country, before deciding whether or not to swim.”

The other factor in swimming conditions is potentially toxic algae, Dr Augspurger said.

“Potentially toxic algae thrive in warmer conditions, so it’s important to learn how to recognise these blooms in freshwater, and avoid swimming wherever you encounter them.”

Water quality results on LAWA will be updated weekly during the summer recreation season, with new signage at popular swimming spots directing people to the information at www.lawa.org.nz/swim.

To learn more about potentially toxic algae, visit https://www.lawa.org.nz/learn/factsheets/potentially-toxic-algae/

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