Beach forecasts could help pick safer swim spots

Beach forecasts could help pick safer swim spots

Aucklanders may be able to check which of the city’s beaches are safe to swim in before they head for a day of sand and sea next summer.

Currently, if you want to find out which beaches are safe for swimming, you can look up the latest test results online.

But the the results can be a few days old, and weather conditions and other environmental factors may have affected the water quality in the meantime.

Julia Peters says it's a problem when there is heavy rainfall and stormwater gets washed into recreational water.

People will be able to look up water quality websites before they decide which beach to go to. Photo: 123RF

Auckland Council environment and community committee chair Penny Hulse said a proposal that is about to be considered by the Auckland Council has mooted shifting from retrospective reporting of water quality results to providing water quality forecasts.

“We’re going to carry on our monitoring and testing of beaches, but instead of telling people that the beach that they swam at may well have had some contamination issues, we’re forecasting for the week ahead and telling people what beaches are going to be safe to swim at.”

The forecasts will take into account a range of environmental factors.

“Using the temperature, the weather and any forecast rain events; we can work out depending on those key issues what the contamination levels are likely to be,” Ms Hulse said.

People will be able to look up water quality forecasts on the council website, and potentially through an app, before they decide which beach to go to.

“You don’t want to pack up the children and the car and the dog and then head to the beach and then find a [do not swim] sign up.

“You want to know well in advance when you’re planning your weekend, jump on the internet, on the council website, and work out whether you’re going to swim at Mission Bay, at Bethells or Mairangi Bay,” Ms Hulse said.

The council monitors 69 beaches around the region.

The new system still has to get final sign off, but the council hopes to have it up and running in time for next summer.

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Published at Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:45:19 +0000