Many of you will have noticed the public health warnings advising people and dogs not to go into the water at Tinana (Wilson’s Beach), the Kayak steps behind the cricket/rugby club and many of the streams around Ayr Reserve, Thomas Bloodworth Park, Shore Road Reserve, Waitaramoa Reserve, Newmarket Park and Portland Road. Please do not enter the water.
Extensive testing completed by Healthy Waters over the last, mostly dry, three months, including limited daily testing during lockdown, shows in many cases dangerously high levels of human faecal contamination in the water of the streams tested; making it unsafe for human contact, in some areas every time it is tested.
Just to clarify, at 280 units of E. coli there is a risk of illness from recreational contact in contaminated water. On 7 April 2020 the number of E.coli units recorded at the kayak steps was 92,000, and on 9 April 2020 in the stream between Shore Road Reserve and Thomas Bloodworth Park readings were at 200,000 units.
Contamination in dry weather is from infrastructure problems and in wet weather additional sewage enters through engineered overflow points in the old combined sewage system that is still in use.
We are concerned about the lack of communication from Healthy Waters and Watercare. In particular we would like to know how they will not only fix the immediate problems, but also provide a more detailed plan on how they intend to fix the systemic problems in the wastewater infrastructure in our area. Desley Simpson has promised an update which is expected any day.
In the meantime, if you smell or see sewage or dead eels, please call the Council’s Pollution Hotline on 09 377 3107. Reporting pollution and providing this information is very important.
You may also like to send photos or information about poor water quality, or special native species, in Waitaramoa /Hobson Bay to Hapua Thrive at email@example.com who are working to try and improve water quality in the Bay.
Desley Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org is also a good person to contact to share your views, or contact your local MP.
Update – From Desley Simpson, Newsletter 11 May 2020
Sticking with the important topic of water, I’d like to touch on the situation regarding water quality in Hobson Bay. I’m very keen to get this sorted, and fast – it’s unacceptable to me that this beautiful area is currently a health risk. Unfortunately, the message from our staff at Healthy Waters and Watercare is that the poor water quality is due to network issues such as historic, combined wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Addressing this will require significant investment in infrastructure improvements. Work has started on the repairs though. Staff are looking into long-term infrastructure solutions and have carried out extensive dry weather water quality testing in Newmarket Stream and adjacent streams that flow into Hobson Bay. Investigations are now underway to identify network faults such as dry weather blockages in the wastewater network, incorrectly plumbed wastewater (including illegal private cross connections) and broken drainage infrastructure all of which are contributing to the problem. I will continue to keep you updated as these investigations progress and a plan to fix this is put in place. The water quality should never have been allowed to get this bad and staff are very clear as to my direction to address improvements with urgency. I’m sure you are aware the next nearest safe swimming sites are at Judges Bay and Ōkahu Bay, neither of which are at risk from this contamination and remember you can always check Safeswim page for real time data on water quality at our beaches.