New water quality grades for New Zealand’s swimming spots have been covered widely by media in the wake of a surprisingly high number of swimming spots being labelled as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
The Ministry for the Environment this month released its 2012 Environmental ‘Report Card’ indicating the quality of water at recreational swimming spots around the country. The grades describe the likely condition of a beach that may be used for recreation during summer and are based on an assessment of potential sources of faecal contamination.
Of the 458 monitored beaches that were graded in 2012:
- 17 per cent of freshwater beaches and 18 per cent of the coastal beaches were graded as ‘very good’. A further 15 per cent of freshwater and 42 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘good’.
- 24 per cent of freshwater beaches and 25 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘fair’.
- 24 per cent of freshwater and 13 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘poor’ (generally unsuitable for swimming).
- 21 per cent of recreational freshwater beaches and 3 per cent of coastal beaches used for recreation were graded as ‘very poor’ (high risk- should be avoided for swimming).
Examples of National and local coverage include:
NZ Herald: 52% impure NZ rivers
Press: Some swim sites unsafe
Dominion Post: Ruamahanga no-go for swimmers
Nelson Mail: Some parts of Nelson unsafe for swimming
3 News: NZ rivers far from 100 percent pure
Otago Daily Times: No swimming: 52% impure
Bay of Plenty News : Favourite swimming spots deemed unsafe
NZ Herald: Bill aims to plug pollution loophole