Topic: Environment

No-swim zone for Wairoa River

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Wairoa River is a no-swim zone after four times the safe levels of E. coli were detected in the river, however, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council say that reading is not particularly unusual for that river.

"We've done further testing today to see if those concentrations are still high we're also taking a larger sample of water which we can send off to the lab to be analysed to see where that contamination might be coming from," says Oliver Wade, a coastal scientist for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

The health of the river has been a point of contention in Wairoa over the years with a protest held last year along its riverbanks to restore its mauri or lifeforce.

"When there is a rain event raw sewage ends up in our river and that's been happening for years, I've got reports of hours of raw sewage straight from the toilet and into our waterway," says kaitiaki and Wairoa local Michelle McIlroy.

She says it's the discharge and runoff going into the river that needs to be addressed.

"Its a large catchment with a lot of potential sources of contamination so we certainly do at times, when it's heavy rainfall, we will have quite heavy levels of concentration of E. coli in there," says Wade.

If the results come back unfavourable, the regional council will continue to test until E. coli levels in the water are safe.