Health Hazards at Muriwai and Dunedin Beaches

A while ago I wrote about the shocking water quality at some of New Zealand’s most popular swimming places – a third of them were found to be so polluted that the Ministry for the Environment advised people to stay out of the water. Advice that was in stark contrast to NZ’s ‘100% Pure’ image. Some of the locations (Ocean Beach stream in Northland and Kawakawa Bay south of Auckland) were so polluted that the Ministry said the councils should have permanent “no swimming signs”.

Beaches in both the North and South Islands made the news again today.

A mass failure of household septic tank systems has put over 2000 residents and a million visitors at risk at Rodney District Council’s Muriwai beach, site of a world famous gannet colony.

In Dunedin St Kilda, St Clair and Middle beaches were closed on Sunday due to increased levels of harmful bacteria from the discharge outfall at Lawyer’s Head. Fortunately this should be rectified later this week when a new $34 million waste discharge pipe comes on line and pushes treated sewage a kilometre out to sea.

However, no similar solution is proposed for Muriwai where the provision of a municipal waste water treatment plant would cost an estimated $9 million and take six years to complete.

Rodney DC have said that Muriwai has been rejected for a Government sanitary works subsidy scheme because it “rated low in the deprivation index.”