Keep freshwater free of pests: Horizons

Last updated 12:00 26/12/2013

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Swimmers are urged to keep it clean if they use more than one swimming spot in Manawatu this summer.

Horizons Regional Council takes weekly samples at 16 swimming and recreation sites during summer and grades each site green, amber or red, depending on E Coli levels.

Results from the most recent testing on December 20 showed 12 out of 16 sites were rated green, or safe for swimming, including the main beaches.

Popular sites at Duddings Lake and Lake Wiritoa were graded amber (satisfactory) for swimming, while Mowhanau Stream at the beach bridge and Waikawa Estuary Bridge were graded red, meaning they could be a health risk if used for swimming.

A further 29 areas have a permanent grading system in place and Horizons also looks for blue-green algal slimes which can pose a risk to people and animals.

Horizons Regional Council check, clean, dry advocate David Watt said education on how freshwater pests spread, such as the invasive algae didymo and unwanted fish, could prevent popular swimming spots being contaminated.

"The main thing is that just going to one river, one lake, one stream it's absolutely fine," he said. "But if people went to the Rangitikei River one day and then the Pohangina River the next day, potentially that's how freshwater pests can get spread around.

"What we're trying to do is educate people that wherever they go, assume there maybe freshwater pests there."

Mr Watt said some of those freshwater pests are microscopic at an early stage and could be in the river but you wouldn't see them.

"It's very early to stop them being spread, anything which gets wet, as long as it's touch dry 48 hours after it's touch dry it's going to be fine to go somewhere else," he said. "The other option is using a 5 per cent solution of any household dishwashing solution and that mixed with water to wash down boogie boards, whatever got wet will stop freshwater pests being spread around."

Test results are displayed on the Safe Swim Spots section of Horizons' website.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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