Fuseworks Media

Where’s good to swim this Christmas long weekend – and all summer long – LAWA

New Zealand’s official online swimming water quality guide titled ‘Can I swim here?’ is back for another season to help people decide when and where to enjoy the water. The tool lists around 850 popular swim spots across the country and will continue to be updated with the latest water quality monitoring results and information all summer long.

Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) ‘Can I swim here?’ Science Lead Anna Madarasz-Smith encourages families planning their festive break to take advantage of the free water quality information available to help them choose places with good water quality.

“‘Can I swim here?’ on the LAWA website has you covered with the best available beach, river, and lake water quality results, facilities information, and how to get to your swim spot of choice,” said Ms Madarasz-Smith.

The swimming water quality topic on LAWA not only gives users a clear traffic light system indicating what the water quality result means for human health, but also provides warnings on hazards such as toxic algae blooms which are harmful (particularly for children and dogs) and should be avoided.

“Looking at the results from previous summers, most swim spots are suitable for swimming most of the time, however even places with excellent water quality can exceed guidelines from time to time.

“When water quality is unsuitable for swimming it means there’s an elevated risk of getting sick from contaminants in the water. In New Zealand many of our lake and coastal sites generally have excellent water quality, however it can depend on what’s happening around the catchment.

“Rivers can be more at risk from contaminants washed down after rain, but again, there are many great spots for a splash, particularly during settled weather, so have a look online.

“These holidays, to avoid getting an upset tummy or your pet getting sick while still enjoying the water, check www.lawa.org.nz/swim before deciding where to spend your day and follow the swim smart checklist,” said Ms Madarasz-Smith.

The swim smart checklist is available on the LAWA website. It includes avoiding swimming for at least two days after heavy rain, following any warning signs, checking the water is clean and clear, checking for hazards like potentially toxic algae, and not swimming near pipes, culverts, and birds. 

‘Can I swim here?’ is an initiative from Te Uru Kahika – Regional and Unitary Councils Aotearoa, Cawthron Institute, and central government agencies. It is designed to give New Zealanders free access to water quality results and advice that can help keep them well while enjoying the water. 

Regional and unitary council science teams run summer swimming water quality monitoring programmes as part of their wider work to understand their region’s environment and collect data to inform decisions made about how to use and look our natural resources. Otago Regional Council Chair and Te Uru Kahika Science Spokesperson Gretchen Robertson celebrates the scientists and technicians at councils across the country for their contribution of summer swimming water quality results to ‘Can I swim here?’.

“The LAWA website is an essential resource for New Zealand communities, from parents planning water activities through to dog walkers accessing information about the risks of toxic algae for pets.

“As we prepare to enjoy the outdoors this summer, council staff are keeping people informed about water quality and potential hazards through LAWA.

“We know many of our waterways are under pressure and while we keep on working to improve water quality, it’s important we continue to give our communities access to the best available information about their environment so they can make informed decisions.

“Wherever you are in New Zealand, at home or on holiday, ‘Can I swim here?’ on the LAWA website is your water quality guide for Summer 2024,” said Cr Robertson.

 

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