This report is reprinted from Ministry for Environment website
What this indicator update tells us
- Most of our popular coastal swimming spots are fine for swimming most of the time.
- There are many freshwater swimming spots which should be avoided.
This indicator update gives a summary of the suitability of the freshwater and coastal beaches we choose for recreation. It uses data published by regional and district councils to report on recreational water quality at a national scale. This is the first time we have used ‘beach grades’ – this new method provides information about typical conditions. It focuses on the suitability for swimming at popular swimming spots, and does not give a comprehensive picture of the overall state of New Zealand’s waterways. Our new methodology means we cannot assess trends this year but it will allow us to better measure future change.
This indicator update cannot tell you whether it is safe to swim today at a particular spot and does not replace the site-specific information available on regional and district council websites which can help people understand the likely health risk when deciding whether to go swimming.
Grades in 2012
A total of 210 freshwater beaches and 248 coastal beaches used for recreation have been assigned a beach grade based on monitoring data acquired over five consecutive summers (including the 2011–12 summer). The results presented here are based on these sites.
Other recreational beaches are being monitored but do not have sufficient data to be assigned a beach grade. Almost all regions undertake their own seasonal recreational water quality monitoring. Contact regional and district councils for more information about current conditions and specific monitoring sites.
Of the 458 monitored beaches that were graded in 2012:
- 17 per cent of freshwater beaches and 18 per cent of the coastal beaches were graded as ‘very good’. A further 15 per cent of freshwater and 42 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘good’
- 24 per cent of freshwater beaches and 25 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘fair’
- 24 per cent of freshwater and 13 per cent of coastal beaches were graded as ‘poor’
- 21 per cent of recreational freshwater beaches and 3 per cent of coastal beaches used for recreation were graded as ‘very poor’.
This year’s results cannot be compared with last year’s because we have changed our reporting method to one which is clearer and gives a better indication of health risk. The categories that were used to grade freshwater and coastal beaches are not comparable with those that we have used in previous years. However, this new way of reporting will allow us to monitor change more effectively from this year on.