The Northland Regional Council, in conjunction with District Councils and the Northland District Health Board, sample a number of Northland’s popular swimming spots each summer to check that the water is suitable for swimming.
The recreational bathing programme for 2019 - 2020 commenced 2 December 2019 and ended 23 March 2020 (extended due to the drought conditions). The programme included sampling at 46 coastal and 13 freshwater sites.
Results were published weekly on the LAWA website
In general, water quality is suitable for swimming at most of our open coastal beaches because of dilution and tidal flushing. However, bacterial levels can be elevated at coastal sites located close to river mouths, or spots in many of Northland’s rivers and lakes, particularly after heavy rain, due to runoff of contaminants from surrounding land. Some sites in Northland show consistently high contamination levels, such as Otiria Stream near Moerewa and Wairoa Stream in Ahipara, meaning they are not suitable for swimming at any time.
The weekly results are available during the monitoring season on the LAWA website
Water can be contaminated and unsuitable for recreational use if:
- There is a warning sign erected indicating water is unsuitable for swimming;
- There has been recent heavy rain;
- The water looks dirty (murky);
- There are potential sources of contamination nearby or upstream, such as houses on septic tanks, stock with access to the water or a sewage treatment plant.