Health Warning at Ashburton (Hakatere) River

Thursday January 20, 2011

The Community and Public Health division of Canterbury District Health Board has issued a health warning following ongoing high levels of faecal bacteria in samples taken from sites along the Ashburton/ Hakatere River.

These results are consistent with monitoring in previous years, which have resulted in Environment Canterbury grading four sites on the Ashburton/Hakatere River as ‘very poor’ – 550 parts faecal matter per 100mls.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says people using the Ashburton/ Hakatere River should be aware the water quality is not considered suitable for recreation because of the health risks caused by the bacteria and other potential pathogens present in the water. 

Water contaminated by human or animal faecal matter may contain a range of disease causing micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and protozoa, Dr Humphrey says. 

“In most cases the ill-health effects from exposure to contaminated water are minor and short-lived,” he says.

“However, there is the potential for more serious diseases, such as hepatitis A, giardia, cryptosporosis, campylobacter and salmonella.”

Ashburton District Council is erecting warning signs along the river to advise the public of the health risks.

There are a number of recreational sites along the river but warning signs cannot be placed at every river access point.   ​

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2014
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