Coast and rivers users lap up information
Wellington's coast and rivers users are lapping up information on water quality and want more, according to a recent online survey.
The very popular electronic survey ran for just five weeks during which time more than a thousand people visited the site and 42 percent responded to the survey.
Eighty percent of respondents found the water quality monitoring information on the Greater Wellington Regional Council website useful when planning trips to the beach or rivers. Many respondents wanted more promotion of existing webpages, updates via twitter or Facebook and a smartphone app. Some also asked for more signs posted at access points to popular sites.
Greater Wellington Regional Council's recreational water scientist, Summer Greenfield says the regional and local councils will investigate the development of a smartphone app and increased use of social media to provide water quality updates this summer.
"We'll explore other ways to make water quality information available as well as signage. The problem with signs is that because water quality can change over a short period of time they can be out of date as soon as they're put up," Ms Greenfield says.
Over summer the regional council teams up with local councils to test the water at 62 beach and 21 river sites once a week. Typically the water quality fluctuates with the weather and if a significant health risk is identified signs are put up by local councils in consultation with Regional Public Health.
"Over the past year we have made changes to the way we report results so that the latest information is more accessible. We have introduced an interactive electronic map and developed and promoted the Summercheck web site which can be accessed on smart phones via a QR code."
"Warning signs are still necessary in high risk areas but there is now a focus on encouraging people to check the latest results and information about each site before they leave home or get in the water."
"The survey gave us insight into what people thought about the changes, how they use our rivers and coastal waters and what they value most about them. The fantastic response to the survey tells us that people care a lot about the quality of their water and gives impetus to continue making improvements," says Ms Greenfield.
Responses about people's favourite spots and the time of year that they use them are still being analysed but a report will completed in the next couple of months.
Two lucky respondents won prize draws for 3SIXT HD Sports Action Camera or an iPod Shuffle and Moshi Double Bassburger pocket speakers.
More information about recreational water quality is available gw.govt.nz/is-it-safe-to-swim
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