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Health warning lifted in Lyttelton Harbour and Taylors Mistake

The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board has lifted the health warning at Taylors Mistake and in Lyttelton Harbour. Environment Canterbury has been monitoring a range of sites over the last six weeks following the February 22 earthquake to track levels of bacteria contamination.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says water in both these areas is now suitable for recreational use.

“This is great news for those of us who have been avoiding the water following the high levels of contamination.” Dr Humphrey says. “Though it is now colder, at least those who want to can now get back on or in the water at these locations without the risk of gastro illness.”

Water testing results show faecal bacteria levels at Taylors Mistake are low and the water is therefore safe to enter. In Lyttelton Harbour results have indicated that the water is safe during dry weather with occasional high levels of contamination only following heavy rainfall, Dr Humphrey says.

“People should avoid contact with all waterways for 48 hours after heavy rainfall.”

Meanwhile, health warnings remain in place for the waterways of Avon/Otakaro and the Heathcote/Opawaho rivers, the Avon-Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai, and Pegasus Bay beaches adjacent to Christchurch because of ongoing sewage discharges.

Pegasus Bay beaches north of the Waimakariri River and including Spencerville remain unaffected and safe for recreational use.

Water quality at affected sites is not considered suitable for recreational uses including swimming because of the risk to health from the bacteria and other pathogens.

The only exception to this is Punting on the Avon which follows rigorous guidelines to protect staff and customers from any risk.

Water contaminated by human or animal faecal bacteria may contain a range of disease causing micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa.

“In most cases the ill-health effects from exposure to contaminated water are minor and short-lived. However, there is the potential for more serious diseases, such as hepatitis A, giardia, cryptosporosis, campylobacter and salmonella,” Dr Humphrey says.

More information about recreational water contamination visit the Environment Canterbury website. http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/Pages/water-cont...

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