Owhiro Bay Beach Still Officially Closed

4 March 2010

Owhiro Bay beach remains closed while investigations continue to determine the cause of contamination in the water.

The beach has been closed since 17 February after contamination levels in the bay exceeded safe levels for the third time in a month. Wellington City Council is urging people to stay clear of the water till they discover the cause of the contamination.

The Council's Infrastructure Planning Manager, Maria Archer, says the quality of the water in the bay is still fluctuating and although it can be good for several days on end, it varies too much for the Council to feel comfortable opening the beach.

"We are concerned that the water quality in Owhiro Stream has also been variable over the past few weeks. This is presumably caused by the various imperfections we have found and continue to find, such as private sewer pipes being illegally connected to the stormwater system. We are ensuring that these are fixed by property owners. Breaks and cracks have also been found on the public pipe system and are being repaired as they are found.

We don't want to lift the 'closed beach' status until we are 100 percent sure that we have found what is causing the contamination."

Maria says much work has been done to try and locate the cause of the contamination, including:

  • testing the water in the bay for sea gull droppings, but nothing was found
  • replacing 70m of sewer in Todman Street, Brooklyn
  • repairing broken sewer pipes in two locations in Reuben Avenue
  • finding and fixing private sewers connected to the stormwater system in Ohiro Road and Severn Street, and repairing the public sewer in Severn Street
  • checking and cleaning the Owhiro Bay Parade sewer pipe.

Further investigations of pipes are being carried out around Happy Valley Road, McKinley Crescent, Taft Street, Butt Street and the Lincoln Street and Mornington Street area.

Further investigations are being done on faulty private drains in Borlase Street and Happy Valley Road.

Intensive daily sampling is also continuing at Owhiro Bay beach and Owhiro Stream.

Maria says similar testing to that carried out for the seagull droppings is being done to determine if dog droppings is an issue. "We are investigating this as a number of dogs walk in the area and it has been suggested by residents that this could be a cause. These results will not be known for another week."