Dirty rivers unsafe for swimming

Popular Marlborough swimming spots Craiglochart in the Waihopai River and the Wairau River near Renwick remain too dirty for swimming.

Marlborough District Council environmental monitoring officer Steffi Henkel said water in these swimming holes looked very dirty when she took samples on Thursday so people should not swim there over the weekend.

Laboratory results confirming this should be back on Monday, Ms Henkel said.

Craiglochart and the Wairau River tested unsafe last week, for the first time this summer.

People who swam at unsafe sites had an increased chance of catching a gut, ear, skin or respiratory infection, Ms Henkel said.

Council sampling looked for high levels of ifE.coli nf from human or animal faeces which pointed to the presence of other bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, Ms Henkel said.

Faeces-contaminated water could also contain parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium which caused diarrhoea, cramps and sometimes vomiting.

The testing classed the Taylor River beside the steps in central Blenheim and Picton Beach as potentially contaminated with a higher than usual risk of causing illness or infection.

When it rained, human and animal faecal bacteria entered rivers, streams and beaches through urban and rural stormwater run-off, Ms Henkel said.

At any site, people should wait for at least 48 hours and until water cleared before swimming.

The council samples nine popular freshwater and 12 beach sites weekly, from the start of November until the end of March.

Results are updated weekly on its website marlborough.govt.nz.

The Marlborough Express