Ruakākā Beach, where there is temporary a no-swim warning due to poor water quality. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The sun might be out but Northlanders are being warned not to go swimming this week due to a risk of contaminated waters and a lack of patrolling lifeguards.
Several Northland beaches and waterways have been labelled as “high risk” and are going unpatrolled following the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Beachgoers are advised to visit the SafeSwim website ahead of time to check for any possible water quality issues.
At the time of publishing, there is a temporary no-swim warning across Northland due to poor water quality, according to the website.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Matt Williams says beachgoers need to understand that even if the water conditions are brilliant and the weather is great, there are going to be limited services at some locations.
“In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, some clubs within our boundaries have sustained significant damage, while others are being prioritised for community welfare.”
At Mangawhai Heads, a landslide during flooding earlier in the month significantly damaged the rear of the club, Williams said.
“Mangawhai Heads, in the recent weather event has lost the use of their club through erosion and landslides.”
The club has been red-stickered as the land surrounding it is unstable and patrols are currently having to work out of a portacom building.
“We’ve got an army of exhausted volunteers, they’ve been out there day and night these past few weeks during the week just to get stuff done. They’ve got their own personal lives to tend to and their own issues.”
Williams says the response by members of search and rescue squads as well as the use of many clubrooms as emergency management centres highlights the importance of surf lifesaving to the community.
“We have been there to help New Zealanders for a hundred years when their hands are up. We’re always there to assist. This time around, we’re needing New Zealand’s help and I think we’re gonna see a lot of clubs which are needing financial support.
“Hey, it’s not the best time to be going to the beach. But again … if you find yourself with some spare time … go help your community,” Williams said.
Northland Surf Life Saving clubs not patrolling or conducting observational patrols only (no flags):
- Ruakākā – Observational patrol only.
Northland Surf Life Saving clubs conducting active patrols, pending water safety guidance from SafeSwim:
- Whangārei Heads – Full patrol scheduled. The type of patrol will depend on the water quality with SafeSwim.
- Waipū Cove – Full patrol scheduled. The type of patrol will depend on the water quality with SafeSwim.
- Mangawahi Heads – Full patrol scheduled. The type of patrol will depend on the water quality with SafeSwim.
Northern Regional Council (NRC) has also recommended Northlanders avoid flood waters, streams, rivers, harbour water and beaches.
“There is currently a high risk of contaminated water in our streams, rivers, harbours, and beaches, this can cause serious health risks,” NRC said in a Facebook post.
NRC advised the public to not swim or bathe in water until it is clear.
“After heavy rainfall, overflow from wastewater systems and other contaminants on land can be washed into our lakes, streams, rivers and coastal waters.”
Eating shellfish and fish caught in the storm area is also not recommended.
“Shellfish can remain contaminated for several weeks. Avoid collecting shellfish for at least 28 days after the extreme event.”