Beach health warnings lifted

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 17:43 08/09/2011

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Residents can return to the sea - the post-earthquake health warning at Christchurch beaches has been lifted.

Christchurch beach water again has low levels of bacteria, bacterial monitoring results from Environment Canterbury and the Christchurch City Council show.

However, the Canterbury Distrcit Health Board said warnings for the Estuary and the Avon and Heathcote rivers remain in place.

Canterbury medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey said the city's beaches were now suitable for recreational use.

 ''This is great news for those of us who have been avoiding the water following the high levels of contamination,'' he said.

  ''With summer approaching, those who want to can now get back on or in the water at these locations without the risk of gastro illness.''

Water-testing results show faecal bacteria levels at the Waimairi, North Beach, New Brighton, South Brighton, Sumner and Scarborough beaches are low and the water safe to enter.

But heavy rain washes faecal matter into the sea, and Humphrey said people should avoid the beaches for two days after heavy rain. 

Sewage containing high levels of human pathogens was still being discharged into the Estuary, and people should continue to avoid the Estuary and Avon and Heathcote rivers, he said.

''Even after the sewage discharges cease, as more people return to Christchurch or start to reuse their normal household toilet after using a chemical toilet or portaloo for many months, new breaks in the sewerage system may appear as a result of increased wastewater flow on the system.''

He said it could take months for the Estuary and rivers to return to pre-quake standards.

The shellfish health warning is still in place.

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