Contractors have today begun fixing damaged pipes that have caused a health alert at one of Auckland's most popular beaches.
High levels of E.coli, which can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, have been present at Browns Bay beach on the North Shore since the middle of last month.
The problem has been traced to a broken public wastewater pipe that runs under Oban Rd and a collapsed private wastewater pipe at the northern end of the beach.
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While E.coli levels have been up to 10,000 times over the guidelines at a stormwater outflow at the beach, levels on the beach itself are slightly elevated, Auckland Council's Safeswim general manager Nick Vigar has told the Herald
"It's not a massive health risk by virtue of dilution," he said.
Watercare contractors today started repairing the damaged public and private pipes in Browns Bay, which are leaking into the stormwater network that discharges at the local beach.
A spokeswoman said the first stage involves CCTV investigations and pipe flushing before a PVC liner is inserted into the 59-metre-long public pipe.
A second repair involves repairing a much-shorter section of private pipe.
It's hoped all repairs will be completed by the end of the week, she said.
Daily water quality testing is taking place while work takes place. Auckland Council has placed warning signs at the stormwater outlet at the beach. A warning also appears on a digital Safeswim sign overlooking the beach.
When the Herald visited the beach nine days ago, children were among people in the water blissfully unaware of the health alert.
Angela Liu and husband Xiao Feng pulled their children, York (aged 6) and Seline (aged 3), away from the water's edge when told of the health risk.
She said the family come down to the beach every weekend because the children love it so much, but were unaware of the health alert and not seen any signs.
Elliot Connolly was annoyed to hear about the health alert after a refreshing one-minute swim, having just run 19km from Devonport to Browns Bay.
"I'll be stinking of E.coli," he joked.