Central Otago water quality continues to be mixed

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Last week’s coverage of water quality results created considerable comment from Central Otago readers. Pam Jones takes another look at the data that is coming through.

Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes water quality readings continue to be mixed this summer, as some waterways switch between safe and cautionary E. coli levels.

Last week’s story in The News included the most recent water quality data at the time of publication, which said most waterways were classified by the Otago Regional Council (ORC) as “green”, or “suitable for swimming”.

But the next round of samplings provided readings that put some waterways into the “amber” (caution advised) or “red” (unsuitable for swimming) gradings.

The change, and a resulting Facebook post on The News‘ website, attracted considerable attention, reaching almost 7000 people on Facebook and having about 2500 Facebook engagements as of the middle of this week.

One reader said: “It was never like this when I was a kid.”

Another said: “There was a time water in Central Otago was said to be as ‘pure as distilled water and safe to use in car batteries’.”

“Now it looks like you need to do a water test like you do for swimming pools, before you even put you toe into the water!”

Nine sites are sampled by the ORC in Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes district.

Their most recent readings at the time of publication were:

Lake Dunstan, Alpha St, Cromwell (From January 7 sample. “Green” or “suitable for swimming” grading)

Lake Dunstan, Dunstan Arm Rowing Club, Clyde (January 7, green/suitable for swimming)

Manuherikia River, Shaky Bridge, Alexandra (January 10, amber/caution advised)

Taieri River, Waipiata (January 11, red/unsuitable for swimming)

Lake Hawea (January 7, green/suitable for swimming)

Lake Wanaka (January 7, green/suitable for swimming)

Frankton Bay (January 10, green/suitable for swimming)

Queenstown Bay (January 10, amber/caution advised)

Lake Hayes (January 9, amber/caution advised).

To see the most recent water quality gradings, go to www.lawa.org.nz/swim.

– The Otago Regional Council (ORC) takes weekly water samples from nominated waterways every summer and the results are published on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) website, which also has a link on the ORC website.

– The readings are taken every Monday and are available to the ORC every Wednesday afternoon, then updated on the LAWA and ORC websites usually every Wednesday evening.

– The website lists the results with “green” (suitable for swimming) results at the top. To see detailed information for the “amber” (caution advised) and “red” (unsuitable for swimming) gradings, members of the public need to click on the “show more” or “A-Z” links.