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Estuary outlet no-swim warning lifted after 11 years

Flagstaff Team

Improved… Health warnings have applied at the Wairau outlet since 2010

Permanent Don’t Swim warnings for the Wairau Estuary outlet to Milford Beach are being removed.

Milford Residents Association and environmental lobbyists have welcomed the news, brought about by years of efforts to clean up pollution flowing into the sea from the Wairau catchment.

Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters team announced last week that the area’s status will be updated through the Safeswim system. This means swimmers wanting a dip at the northern end of Milford Beach and nearby Castor Bay can check daily conditions online.

“Whilst the water quality at this site has improved sufficiently to remove the long-term warning, it is still considered poor during rain and will exceed guidelines after rainfall,” a Healthy Waters relationship adviser, Hannah Brightley, told local-body politicians.

North Shore councillor and chair of the council’s Environment Committee Richard Hills said he was extremely happy to report that work to date had enabled the lifting of the warning put in place by the North Shore City Council in 2010.

In the last few years wastewater and storm- water connection issues have been traced and dealt with and illegal discharges prosecuted. Pollution monitoring, water sampling and riparian planting will continue.

Wairau Estuary Environmental Protection Society (Weeps) spokesman Guy Armstrong credited the support of a “whole heap of residents creating a ground swell that made the council take notice.”

More work was still needed to stop sewage flowing through to the beach, he said. Weeps would stay on the case over improving ageing infrastructure and coping with the added load from housing intensification.

North Shore MP Simon Watts who called a public meeting on water quality issues this year, said he was “super stoked” to hear the news. Devonport-Takapuna board member George Wood also hailed the “major improvement” which he said showed efforts of the board and adjoining Kaipatiki Local Board and their communities had paid off.

“There is still a lot more work to do but the staff of Healthy Waters of Auckland Council and Watercare Services need to be commend- ed for their ongoing support and plans for the future to improve the water in the Wairau Creek and Milford Estuary.”

See safeswim.org.nz

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