Stay safe in our waterways

07 February 2023

In our district we have a number of rivers that are popular swimming spots in the summer.  During periods of less rainfall, river flows are slowed down. This can cause Cyanobacteria to bloom.

These toxins are harmful to humans and animals. Exposure to contaminated water may cause symptoms such as skin rashes, nausea, tummy upset and tingling and numbness around the mouth or tips of fingers.
Some signs to watch out for before entering the water include:

  • If the water looks clean and clear, it should be safe to swim.
  • It is safest to wait for the water to clear after rain before swimming in rivers.
  • In high flow, swimming in rivers is never recommended regardless of E.coli levels.
  • Be mindful of potential risks when swimming; hazards can be cliffs, sunken logs, rocks and trees.

If musty smelling, black slimy mat-like growths are observed on river bed stones during low river flows, it is safest for you and your dog to avoid using the river.

The information Horizons Regional Council collects on our swim spots is shared on the LAWA (Land Air Water Aotearoa) `Can I Swim here?’ website. Horizons also advises the public by displaying warning signage in the immediate area, and notifying Heath Protection Officers of any changes in water quality that are of public health significance.

If you experience any symptoms after contact with potentially unsafe recreational water please contact MidCentral Public Health Services and visit a doctor immediately.

Animals that consume Cyanobacteria should be taken to a vet straight away.