NZ beaches: Contaminated as

By Daniel Collins 08/01/2010

“Due to water pollution the public are warned against swimming, fishing and taking shellfish in this vicinity.”

So say health warnings on many of our beaches. Almost a third of our beaches, lakes and rivers were deemed unsafe by MfE during the 08-09 summer, according to a Consumer NZ report covered by NZ Herald.

I’d tell you more if I were willing to pay for the report, but no dice I’m afraid.

Russell Norman weighs in, decrying the worsening state of our environment. On the other hand, an environmental scientist at the Manukau City Council says some sites are improving, and that you should never expect a pristine urban beach.

I wonder if an MfE representative was invited to comment, or a civil and environmental engineering professor.

Degraded urban beach water quality is a side-effect of, mainly, sewerage treatment and localised disposal. Affluent cities can improve water quality by way of ocean outfalls, longer ocean outfalls, secondary treatment, tertiary treatment, or the elimination of combined sewer overflow systems.

But these aren’t cheap options, and there is no free lunch. If we want cleaner beaches near cities, we will have to pay.