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Check the water, before you jump in

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

With only three more sleeps until Christmas and the promise of sunny weather ahead, our region's popular swim spots will be in hot demand. To help people to decide where to go, Horizons Regional Council's annual water testing at swimming and recreational spots is well underway.

Horizons monitors water quality at 13 swimming spots and based on the results the spots are given a green light when it's good to swim, amber when precaution should be taken, and red if its best not to swim. While Horizons carries out weekly testing at 13 spots, there are 29 popular swimming areas that have a permanent grading system, based on knowledge of the water quality at the sites.

"Popular swimming spots at local rivers such as the Pohangina, Kahuterawa, Tokomaru, Oroua, and Manawatu Rivers should be great for recreation over the holiday period if forecasts of settled weather are accurate." says Horizons' Barry Gilliland.

"But even if the weather doesn't co-operate anyone can easily figure out if water quality is ok to use. All it takes is knowing a basic rule of thumb and some common sense."

"If it hasn't rained for a couple of days and the water looks clean and clear it should be safe to swim."

However river users should watch for possible growth of blue-green algae. Blue-green algae mats are sometimes found in stony bed rivers after a couple of weeks of low flows. These algae can carry toxins that that are a health hazard to people and animals.

Horizons checked local rivers earlier this month and saw none of these algae, but if there is a long spell of fine weather it might make an unwelcome appearance.

"If the river bed is stony, and earthy/musty smelling black mat-like growths cover most of the stones, then my advice is to go somewhere else," Mr Gililand said.

He suggests people check the Horizons website ( from time to time to see if there are any warnings posted.

Alternative swimming spots are the coastal beaches which meet water quality guidelines no matter what the weather brings or Duddings Lake which usually has good water quality.

The greatest risk for swimmers at beaches and swimming spots is drowning. Please be very cautious when using them.

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