16 Feb 2018

Auckland water quality: 'It bloody peeves me right off'

6:28 am on 16 February 2018

Aucklanders should be up in arms at the city's water quality problems, the organiser of some of Auckland's biggest ocean swims says.

A warning sign at Takapuna beach.

A warning sign at Takapuna beach. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Heavy rain washed sewage and other contaminants into the sea prompting no-swim warnings for 60 beaches on Sunday.

Ten of those warnings were still in place yesterday.

Some swimming and surf life saving events had to be cancelled this summer because of poor water quality.

The director of the Banana Boat New Zealand Ocean Swim Series, Scott Rice, said it was terrible that water quality was even a consideration for event organisers.

"This is a huge problem and the more pressure the public can put on Auckland Council, the more funding it will get and the faster the issue can be sorted out," he said.

The Red Beach Surf Life Saving Club cancelled its surf carnival for the first time in 60 years in January because the beach was at the council's highest risk level for contamination.

The club's chair, Dylan Turner, said having to keep people out of the water on a lovely day went against everything the club stood for.

"It bloody peeves me right off, that we have to cancel trainings. Two weeks ago we had to cancel 350 under-14 kids from actually going in the water to learn life saving skills.

"I mean, that's what we're about - keeping our beaches safe and keeping our communities safe," he said.

Other events in Auckland, such as swim races at Takapuna Beach had also been postponed this summer.

Water quality had become much more visible since the Auckland Council launched a website, SafeSwim, with a new three-level risk alert system in November.

The website's lead scientist, Martin Neale, said its monitoring systems had improved greatly and it was still learning.

Information it gleaned from when beaches were contaminated, and for how long, had led to more investigations into the causes and that would lead to solutions, he said.

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