Focusing on swimming targets

Southlanders will soon be able to have their say on targets for how swimmable we want our rivers and lakes to be. The targets are a requirement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management  which was released by the Government in 2017.

Under the policy statement, regional councils are required to identify and develop targets for increasing the number of rivers and lakes that are suitable for swimming, with a national goal of 80% of lakes and rivers swimmable by 2030 and 90% by 2040.

Environment Southland councillors today approved the steps to be taken to set targets, which will include community discussions allowing Southlanders to identify where they swim and at what times of the year.

Environment Southland director of policy, planning and regulatory services Vin Smith said  that community conversations would begin shortly and he encouraged all those with an interest in the targets to get involved.

“It’s important for us to know where and when people are swimming in our rivers and lakes. This helps us understand the work that needs to be undertaken to ensure swimmers can enjoy our environment and stay healthy. That’s what setting these targets is all about.”

While targets are required to be set by 31 December 2018, the People, Water and Land programme will allow for further refinement of targets past this date, in liaison with the community and local iwi.

It was agreed that for the purpose of meeting the December 2018 deadline, swimmability should be defined as it is in the policy statement, by looking at E. coli in rivers and lakes, and cyanobacteria in lakes and lake-fed rivers. Also, the People, Water and Land programme will allow the community to consider additional factors relating to swimming, such as clarity, colour, access, and water depth and flow.