Unhealthiest places to swim

By Sonya Bateson

Only half of the Western Bay of Plenty's main swimming spots have been given a good quality ranking for recreational use.

The regional council monitors 30 recreational use sites in Tauranga and the Western Bay, 15 of which were ranked good or very good, seven were ranked fair and eight were ranked as poor or very poor water quality.

The level of water quality was based on two measures - a microbial assessment which measured faecal indicator bacteria levels in the water and sanitary inspection, which was a catchment-based risk assessment.

Of the 30 sites tested, the only two local sites to come back "very poor" were Greerton Park (at the footbridge) and the Kaiate Falls.

Six more sites were ranked "poor", two of which were based at the Wairoa River.

Local Green Party member and Tauranga City Council mayoral candidate Ian McLean said it would be hard to find a solution for the water quality issues at the eight sites.

Pollution at the Wairoa River wasn't all the fault of humans and some of it was natural, he said.

"Some comes from farming but it doesn't drain a lot of dairy. It makes it a very difficult problem to deal with because it's draining out of forestry and naturally. It may not have been very good water quality in the first place."

Bay of Plenty Regional Council science manager Rob Donald said a number of projects to improve water quality were already underway but generally speaking, unless there were known point source discharges it was not possible to quickly fix those sites that were ranking poor.

He said even by excluding stock from waterways, there would still be contamination from pasture during rainfall.

Mr Donald said the main reasons for the low water quality at these sites were generally farming related, but sewage, wildfowl and wild animals could also cause problems.

People should not bathe in a river if it was discoloured or after rainfall, he said.

Water quality ratings

Very good:

  • Anzac Bay Bowentown Domain

  • Kaituna River (Trout Pool Rd)

  • Mount Maunganui Ocean beach Surf Club

  • Omanu Beach

  • Omokoroa Beach

  • Papamoa Beach Surf Club

  • Pukehina Beach Eastern car park

  • Tanners Point Beach


  • Ngamuwahine River (reserve)

  • Pongakawa River (SH2)

  • Waihi Beach 3 Mile Creek

  • Wairoa River (below McLaren Falls Dam)

  • Wairoa River (Bethlehem)

  • Waitui Reserve

Very Poor:

  • Greerton Park (footbridge)

  • Kaiate Stream (Kaiate Falls)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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