Waterways monitoring ramped up
Waikato Regional Council will trial modelling as part of next summer’s recreational water quality monitoring programmes to assess risks at a greater number of sites. Proposed changes to the monitoring programmes and a summary of the 2021-22 summer recreational monitoring in freshwater, estuaries and open-coast beaches were presented at the environmental performance committee meeting last week. Monitoring manager Ed Brown said the changes, including modelling information to include more river sites and greater use of education via web platforms and signs, would better empower people to decide where and when to go swimming. “This modelling of E. coli health warning levels has been assessed by our staff using data from our existing long-term monthly monitoring of 125 sites and has shown that E. coli levels across the 125 sites can confidently be inferred by only taking water samples at those 16 sites. “We will be trialling using the monitoring results of those 16 reference sites to estimate E. coli levels across the remainder of the region for unmonitored rivers. “Some other regional councils are already using a mix of monitored and modelled results . . . ” Brown said the council would also extend reporting to a greater number of lakes where the risk of harmful algae blooms was often high.