Our beaches are beautiful, but how do you know they are clean?

A significant upgrade of Auckland’s Safeswim beach water quality monitoring programme will be delivered by Auckland Council in time for the 2017/18 summer swimming season.

Monitoring programmes have been in place at beaches in various parts of Auckland for the past 18 years but are now being updated. I seconded the motion to upgrade the Safeswim programme at the Environment and Community Committee meeting, using existing budget, to give Aucklanders not only current but forecasted information about water quality.

Although the water quality of our beautiful Ōrākei bays and beaches is generally good, there are still times that due to rainfall, tides and water temperature, the bacteria levels in the water make it unadvisable to swim in certain areas.

The new system uses sophisticated technology using information on rainfall, wind, tides and bacteria levels, enabling us to not only ‘read’ the water’s safety but to also to predict it.  The current system only reports the water quality that has already occurred and obviously that’s too late to be helpful.

Information gathered will be able to be promoted across multiple communication channels such as SMS and social media. The public can easily access water quality information in advance, allowing them to make informed decisions on when and where to go swimming.

This upgrade is an advanced tool to complement confirmed council projects such as the Central Interceptor Programme which will ultimately improve water quality as it will increase the capacity and resilience of central Auckland’s storm and wastewater networks so that wastewater overflows are much less frequent.