Beaches 'good' for summer - ECan

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012
Algal bloom
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ

Taylors Mistake

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Canterbury beaches are expected to be in "pretty good" shape this summer, Environment Canterbury (ECan) says.

The regional council has begun water quality monitoring at 51 river and lake sites and 45 popular coastal swimming spots from Kaikoura to the Waitaki catchment.

The test results will be put on the ECan website weekly until mid-March.

ECan water quality scientist Michele Stevenson said Canterbury's popular beaches, such as Taylors Mistake and Gore Bay, were "looking pretty good" for summer.

However, she said river spots, such as the Ashburton River, were still problematic.

The coastal and freshwater sites were graded from "very good" - considered satisfactory for swimming - to "very poor", which should be avoided, with possible "direct discharges of faecal material" in the water.

The freshwater sites were tested for E.coli, while the marine sites were tested for enterococci. Both indicated whether pathogens or harmful micro-organisms, such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses, were present.

If a site had a high reading, it would be tested again that week, Stevenson said.

ECan also checked for algal blooms as they could be dangerous to health.

Lake Alexandrina has been added to the testing regime as it has become a popular site.

Stevenson said a few spots, including the Pareora River at Evans Crossing and several sites in the Avon-Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai, including South Spit, Beachville Road jetty and Moncks Bay, had improved in past years.

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