The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board
has lifted the health warning at Christchurch beaches but warnings for the
Estuary/Ihutai and the Avon/Otakaro and Heathcote/Opawaho rivers remain in
Bacterial monitoring from Environment Canterbury and the Christchurch City
Council now show that Christchurch beach water has very low levels of bacteria.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says Christchurch
beaches are now suitable for recreational water use.
“This is great news for those of us who have been avoiding the water
following the high levels of contamination,” Dr Humphrey says.
“With summer approaching, those who want to can now get back on or in the
water at these locations without the risk of gastro illness.”
Water testing results show faecal bacteria levels at Waimairi Beach, North
Beach, New Brighton Beach, South Brighton Beach, Sumner Beach and Scarborough
Beach are low and the water is therefore safe to enter, Dr Humphrey says.
It is also important to remember heavy rain washes faecal matter into the
sea, so people should avoid the beaches for two days after heavy rainfall,
particularly at Scarborough beach, which has a storm water drain at its eastern
Unfortunately, there is also sewage still being discharged into rivers
running into the estuary and these rivers have been demonstrated by scientists
at Environmental Science and Research (ESR) to contain high levels of human
pathogens, such as giardia, cryptosporidium, clostridium, campylobacter, E.coli
and viruses. This means people should continue to avoid the Estuary/Ihutai and
the Avon/Otakaro and Heathcote/Opawaho rivers.
“Even after the sewage discharges cease, as more people return to
Christchurch or start to reuse their normal household toilet after using a
chemical toilet or port-a-loo for many months, new breaks in the sewerage system
may appear as a result of increased waste-water flow on the system. Monitoring
of the Avon, Heathcote and the Estuary is unlikely to demonstrate a return to
pre-earthquake levels for many months,” Dr Humphrey says.
It is still important not to collect shellfish from anywhere in the area, as
sewage borne viruses can live in shellfish for many months.
For more information about recreational water quality visit the Environment
Canterbury website: http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/Pages/water-contamination-ch.
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