Pollution Hazard - Steer Clear of Owhiro Bay

27 January 2010

Pollution-warning signs are being erected on and around Owhiro Bay beach this afternoon following the detection of possible sewage contamination in the waters of the bay.

Wellington City Council is urging people to stay clear of the water in the area until further notice.

Water-quality monitoring in the past two days has found that the presence of enterococci - an indicator of microbiological pollution, including sewage - in Owhiro Bay is at a level likely to cause a health hazard.

The Council has taken the action following consultation with Regional Public Health staff.

City Council Infrastructure Planning Manager Maria Archer says the source of the contamination is not obvious. Water samples are being taken at various points in the Owhiro Stream and local sewer mains are being checked as a matter of urgency.

The presence of enterococci in the water indicates it is unsuitable for swimming or recreational contact. Health problems that can be associated with the ingestion of contaminated water include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting. In addition, cuts and skin lesions can become infected.


Today's test results for Owhiro Bay beach (closed yesterday due to high enterococci contamination readings) shows the water quality is now back to normal levels and is considered safe for swimming. The City Council is to remove the warning signs in the bay erected yesterday.
Investigations carried out in the Owhiro Bay catchment have not identified any pollution source directly contributing towards the elevation of bacteria levels. However, we have identified a few areas which could potentially cause some pollution in the Owhiro stream. Our investigation team will continue checking these areas and water-quality monitoring will continue.