River swimmers urged to take care

Last updated 12:00 17/12/2013

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Horizons Regional Council is reminding swimmers to choose their spots wisely when opting for a dip in one of Manawatu's rivers.

Cliffs, in particular, pose a danger and Horizons staff were out recently checking warning signs at two popular swimming spots - Pohangina at Totara Reserve and the Manawatu River at Anzac Cliffs in Palmerston North, to ensure swimmers were aware of cliff hazards.

"While there are numerous swimming spots near cliffs throughout the region, these two spots are recognised for their popularity and a history of cliff disturbance," group manager of catchment operations Allan Cook said.

"While the cliffs are generally stable, there is an ever present danger of collapse and often that happens without any warning. For this reason we recommend people choose swimming spots away from cliffs when they can, and when not, to keep as much distance between themselves and the cliffs as possible."

A rock fall at Raumai Reserve on the Pohangina River last year resulted in that swimming spot being closed for several days. Nobody was hurt in the rock fall, which happened on a Sunday morning in mid-December.

Raumai Reserve is about 6 kilometres downstream from where three children were killed when a cliff collapsed while they were swimming in the Pohangina River at Totara Reserve in 2006.

Mr Cook said other hazards swimmers should watch out for included sunken logs, rocks and over-hanging trees. Swimmers should also look out for musty smelling, black, slimy mat-like algae known as blue-green algae.

Horizons staff check for the algae each Wednesday when they conduct their water quality testing at 16 swimming spots around the region.

That testing looks at E coli levels. The latest results, from samples taken on December 11, gave green, or safe, rankings to 11 locations. Duddings Lake and Lake Wiritoa are classed as amber, which stands for "should be satisfactory for swimming".

Red rankings, where there could be a risk to swimmers, were given to the Manawatu River Estuary at the wharf testing site, the Waikawa Estuary Bridge site and the Kaikokopu Stream.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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