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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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Recreational water

The quality of water at various sea and freshwater sites across the Southern District is monitored weekly during the swimming season (December – March) to make sure people can visit these sites without becoming unwell.

The results of this monitoring are published by Environment Southland, Otago Regional Council and the Dunedin City Council.  They are also available on LAWA.

“Toxic algal blooms” can also occur in the sea, as well as in our lakes and rivers, and these tend to occur in warmer weather and sometimes after storms.  These blooms are caused by the rapid growth of very tiny organisms that can produce toxins.  Sometimes they can be seen as coloured patches on the surface of the water, but not always.  If the toxins are ingested, they can make you seriously unwell.

Where water is found to be unsafe to swim or fish in, or collect shellfish from, a health warning will be published and in some instances this will be placed on signs at the affected site. However, you should also always be cautious in other areas that might not be monitored, particularly after heavy rainfall, or if you see discoloured water.

You should avoid swimming for 48 hours (two days) after heavy rainfall and should seek medical advice from your GP if you become unwell after having contact with recreational water.

If you are concerned about contaminated water, please contact either:

  • Otago Regional Council -  Water Monitoring 0800 426463  
  • Environment Southland.- Phone: 03 211 5115 / 0800 76 8845