The Kapiti Coast District Council has put signs around the Wainui stream in Paekākāriki warning that children shouldn’t bathe or play in it.
The Council doesn’t normally monitor the stream, which flows between the Holiday Park and the beach, but a group of Massey students recently did some testing there and found high levels of e.coli bacteria.
Tamsin Evans, Group Manager Community Services, says Council has put up signs asking people to prevent children from playing in the water until rain flushes it out.
She says: “On Friday we received the results of sampling done by Massey students as part of their training to become environmental health officers. Because they were from a credible source we responded by erecting warning signs.”
Ms Evans says it’s likely the high bacterial readings are a result of the current weather conditions.
Low rainfall and high temperatures
“We suspect a combination of low rainfall and high temperatures have resulted in low flows in the stream, combined with agricultural runoff from further upstream,” she says.
“Samples taken from above and below the Holiday Park do not show any appreciable difference, meaning the park does not appear to be the source of the contamination.”
Ms Evans says in summer Council spends $20,000 a year monitoring water quality in 14 sites throughout the district, but not usually the smaller streams.
“However,” she says, “since the results of the Wainui Stream testing have been brought to Council attention further monitoring will be carried out. Until we have information that tells us the water is safe, the signs will remain in place.”
Julie Lloyd of Council’s Environmental Health team says while the dry weather continues it would be wise to keep children out of smaller waterways where bacterial counts are likely to be high because of low flows.
“Once we’ve had some good rainfall the situation should sort itself out but for the moment it is best to treat low flow water as potentially contaminated,” she says.