Current public health warnings and alerts

Pandora Pond Swim Warning Back in Place - 23 February 2018

A swimming warning on Pandora Pond in Napier is back in place following today’s test results which again shows high levels of bacteria in the pond.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Nicholas Jones said he wanted to keep the swim warning lifted, but it was clear the situation was more complex than previously thought. 

“We need to take a precautionary approach because the risk to people’s health, with the level of bacteria is too high, Dr Jones said.

The New Zealand guidelines note that risks at the reported level of 302 enterococci (bacteria) per 100ml would equate to roughly 1 in 15 people who swim in the pond getting a gastro illness, and about 1 in 30 people getting a respiratory infection.

“We apologise to everyone who uses the pond and has events planned this weekend, but we must make people aware of the risk to their health.

“The close monitoring and fluctuating levels means we have identified an issue, with the pond, that requires much more thorough investigation. We won’t agree to lift the swim warning until we are confident bacteria levels have consistently returned to normal.” Dr Jones said.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell supported Dr Jones’ decision and is ensuring HBRC science staff continue to investigate the problem to try and determine the cause.

If anyone is feeling sick after swimming in the pond they should see their doctor, and mention they have been swimming in the pond.

High levels of bacteria were detected in a regular weekly water sample taken from Pandora Pond earlier this week by Hawke's Bay Regional Council staff.  HBRC informed the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and Napier City Council and then immediately undertook two consecutive re-samples.

More information on where to go for medical care can be found http://ourhealthhb.nz/choose-well/where-should-i-go/  or people can call Healthline 0800 611 116 for free, for advice from a trained registered nurse

Pandora Pond swimming warning lifted 22 February 2018

A swimming warning on Pandora Pond in Napier has been lifted this tonight following two water sample tests coming back clear.

 

Hawke's Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Nicholas Jones says based on today’s test results, the risk of swimming in the pond is now within the safe swimming guideline's acceptable levels. However, authorities would continue to closely monitor and investigate possible sources.

 

"We note that large numbers of birds can be present from time-to-time in the pond and risk may be elevated at these times."

 

High levels of bacteria were detected in a regular weekly water sample taken from Pandora Pond earlier this week by Hawke's Bay Regional Council staff.  HBRC informed the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and Napier City Council and then immediately undertook two consecutive re-samples.

 

The DHB issued a public warning not to swim in the pond until further notice and Napier City Council erected warning signs. A sanitary survey was also undertaken to try and ascertain the source of the contamination.

 

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell says the high result is either an anomaly or a one-off event but staff will continue investigations to try and determine the cause.

 

HBRC will also continue with daily samples until Monday to ascertain whether this was a one-off event.

 

Pandora Pond swimming warning - 21 February 2018

People are being warned not to swim in Pandora Pond, Napier, until further notice due to contamination.

Hawke’s Bay’s District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Dr Nicholas Jones, said monitoring by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council had identified high levels of bacteria in water from samples taken this week.

The levels exceed the maximum values recommended in the Recreational Water Guidelines and indicate that, at the time of sampling, there were excessive amounts of faecal matter, either animal or human in the water. (Recorded levels were 475 Enterococci cfu/100ml.  The safe swimming guideline is 280). The two most commonly measured faecal indicator bacteria are E. coli (in freshwater) and Enterococci (in marine waters).

Dr Jones said people needed to heed health official advice and avoid any contact with the water.

“People should not swim, or undertake any other water based recreational activities in Pandora Pond until further notice.

Dr Jones said swimming and water based activities in contaminated water poses a risk of infections of the stomach, skin, eyes and ears

Napier City Council was putting up warning signage against swimming in Pandora Pond.

Napier City Council Manager Sport and Recreation, Glenn Lucas, said organisers planning upcoming events at Pandora Pond were being notified. The Pandora Splash Zone’s inflatable water playground would also be closed until further notice.

Napier City Council’s Director of Infrastructure, John Kingsford, said there had been no known discharges of wastewater into the pond that could have caused the high reading.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Water Quality Technician Shane Gilmer said the high reading was picked up in a regular weekly sample. Staff have since done two consecutive re-samples, which have been sent away for testing. Results were expected in the next 48 hours.

He said when sampling the pond this week he noticed the water was very discoloured. “Generally as a handy guide - if people can’t see their toes when standing in knee-deep water, then water-quality is not the best for a swim”.

Mr Gilmer said there had been rain within the catchment in the last week which had contributed to surface water runoff, which then entered the estuary.

Swimming warning to remain in place at Wairoa River - 31 January 2018

Swimming warnings remain in place at Wairoa River where an investigation is ongoing by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Hawke’s Bay District Health Board into recent high levels of E.coli contamination.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Dr Nicholas Jones, said that despite one sampling result showing levels had dropped back below guideline level warnings, people should still avoid swimming in the river.

“Our investigation is continuing, and the overall trend of Wairoa River is that it is continually graded as very poor and therefore is not recommended as a site for swimming and other recreation. 

“Faecal sourcing testing, which forms part of the joint investigation into the likely cause of contamination in the water, has been carried out and samples were currently being processed by a lab.”

For more information about the river and why it’s graded “very poor” people can visit: www.lawa.org.nz/explore-data/swimming.

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Swimming warning to remain in place at Wairoa River - 24 January 2018
Swimming restrictions remain in place at Wairoa River following water sample results this morning confirming high E.coli levels remain in the river – four times above safe swimming guidelines. (see footnote for reading).

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Dr Nicholas Jones, said the DHB was continuing to work with Wairoa District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to understand what might be contributing to the elevated levels.

“Despite yesterday’s weather storm, we know that these readings are not rainfall related so we are working with both councils to further investigate the cause,” said Dr Jones.

“Regular water sampling and monitoring will continue and the regional council will also be using a faecal source tracking tool to investigate the likely source, which will further help to narrow our investigation.”  

Warning signage erected by Wairoa District Council against swimming in the river would remain in place.

Dr Jones urged people to take notice of the warnings and avoid swimming in the river until further notice.

Note: (Reading was 1040).  Readings should be less than 260 E.coli per 100ml.

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Nuhaka River Swimming Warning Read the media release from 21 December, click here. 

 

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