Following on from our previous stories covering the unsafe swimming conditions at Clarks Beach, we’ve been investigating just what’s going wrong with the blue stuff we love to play in. The alarming red icon on the safeswim map below, highlights Clarks Beach as still having a ‘High Risk’ alert level, meaning there is still a long-term no-swim warning in effect, due to poor water quality.
Two-legged creatures main issue at Clarks Beach
Over recent months, a joint water collection project has been running between Auckland Council and Clarks Beach residents, which saw around 200 water samples taken from the beach, stormwater pipes, and streams in the area. A further 130 samples were taken and 51 of those were used in a DNA extraction process, in the hope of identifying the root cause of the problem.
And the main culprit? Two-legged creatures. Mainly birds and their poo (not much of a health worry), but unfortunately also a bit of human ‘you know what’. Oooh yuck. “The DNA analysis was carried out by a specialist Christchurch laboratory, and indicates that the source of the contamination is most strongly linked to birds, with lesser contributions from ruminants (e.g. cows, sheep), dogs, and humans,” advised Auckland Council Safeswim Programme Manager, Nick Viga. “There is evidence of some human faecal contamination during larger rainfall events at some of the pipe outfalls on the beach,” adds Nick. Illegal wastewater pipes connected to the stormwater system, illegal stormwater pipes connected to the wastewater system, and neglected/broken drains at private properties, are all possible causes of the contamination.
Last month Watercare carried out checks for illegal pipe connections, and non-compliant gully traps in the Clarks Beach area. However they’d done this before, both last year and in 2014, and the problems still remain. This time Auckland Council are following up with those doing the “dirty” and say they are taking measures to really get the problem sorted. “Auckland Council will follow-up to ensure this happens,” promises Nick. Let’s hope so, because us Kiwis love the water and it’s no good having a beach on your doorstep, if you can’t swim in it! We’ll be watching.