Sewage leaks into Avon River

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 10:03 15/01/2013
polluted Avon
JOSEPH JOHNSON/The Press

STAY AWAY: A health warning has been issued for the Avon River. The area of Swanns Rd bridge is particularly contaminated.

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A health warning has been issued for the Avon River after a suspected sewer leak. 

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey said there was a problem with the sewer main in Richmond and untreated wastewater had been discharged into the Avon. 

Humphrey said all contact with the river, such as fishing, swimming or drinking from contaminated waterways, should be avoided.

Health risks included exposure to pathogens and viruses that cause gastrointestinal diseases such as giardia, cryptosporidium, clostridium, campylobacter and E. coli.

 "Water quality in the Avon and Heathcote rivers rarely meets recreational water standards, but at the moment the Avon is particularly contaminated downstream of Swanns Rd, and contact with water in the river should definitely be avoided," Humphrey said. 

The problem was a result of ''ongoing issues with underground wastewater'' and stormwater pipes damaged in the earthquakes.

"We understand a large depression developed in the road over the top of a stormwater drain in Warwick St,'' he said.

''This dip suggests that the sewer main has been dragged down and broken, and the untreated wastewater is entering at that point.''

Humphrey said that while the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team was repairing the wastewater network in the Warwick St area, works were expected to take until mid-2013.

People should avoid the river until repair work was completed, he said.

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- The Press

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