River Water Quality

Horizons Regional Council monitors the water quality in the Waikawa Estuary on a weekly basis during the bathing season (1st November to 30th April inclusive) and the results from this monitoring are placed on the Regional Council’s website each Friday night. The monitoring is done at the footbridge. The results can be found at this link.

The results this summer show from 20 monitoring occasions there were 5 times that we would recommend that people do not swim as a result of high E.coli levels. In general these high E. coli levels were also associated with high river flows (in general, rainfall causing contaminants to wash off the land). The E.coli levels are not due to the formation of the sandbar or as a result of slower moving water but as a result of land use. This is one of the reasons that the Waikawa Stream has been identified in the Proposed One Plan as a priority catchment for the management of diffuse contaminants (the Proposed One Plan however is still going through the Environment Court process).

In terms of the sand bar formation this will not contribute to the water quality in the Waikawa Stream however, the sandbar is important in terms of estuary formation and providing more habitat within the Waikawa Estuary for flounder and for inanga spawning which in turn provides recreational opportunities.

Hopefully this answers any concerns you have regarding the water quality in the Waikawa Estuary – the weekly monitoring will continue till the end of April this year and will then recommence in November with all the information being provided at the above website.

2 thoughts on “River Water Quality”

  1. It’s a real shame the water quality of the Waikawa River continues to be bad. RED Status, looking at the people swimming in the river, I wonder how many people know this?

    * Waikawa Estuary 7 February 2013 RED

  2. I agree, it is a real shame about the frequent poor quality of the Waikawa River. We were at Waikawa most of the school holidays and I think the river was ‘green’ status only once while we were there. Before the holidays I noticed on the Horizons website it was mostly ‘green’, but it is obviously affected by the weather over summer – rain, water temps etc. I think the word is getting around the locals about the river testing, but yes I am sure there are still people who don’t read the notice board and know about the water quality. Maybe Horizons should put a sign up by the bridge saying they test the river over summer and where to find it on their website? I have noticed the ‘estuary’ results haven’t been coming up on their website though the past few weeks, not sure why. It is also hard to know exactly when the river is ‘green’ due to delays in tests and waiting for a few days after rain. I found it hard trying to keep my kids out of the river at times when I thought it may have been ‘red’, and tried swimming nearer the mouth or in the sea, but it is hard to really know where and when is ‘safe’. I assume the ‘estuary’ testing is done at the footbridge, and the ‘beach’ test maybe at the sea through the forest?

    I suppose we can focus though on how to improve the river quality – the council is obviously onto it but maybe the WBRA could get some more up-to-date information on where Horizons are at on this issue, where the Plan is in the Environment Court, what measures will then be implemented and how long that may take? Is it likely the water quality can be improved so much that it might be ‘green’ all the time, and how many years before that may happen? I know a lot of people are concerned and interested in this issue, so more information would be helpful.

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