Queenstown bay safe to swim in after elevated E.coli levels

It is now safe for beach-goers to swim in a Lake Wakatipu Bay in Queenstown.

Warning signs were put up around Queenstown Bay, near the town centre on Sunday due to elevated E.coli levels. People had been advised to avoid contact with the lake water for as a precaution. 

The Queenstown Lakes District Council confirmed in a statement on Facebook water quality tests show the elevated E.coli levels have now subsided. 

"The area is now safe for swimming and the warning signs have been taken down," the post reads. 

Routine water quality testing will continue as usual and we'll keep you updated if anything changes."

Queenstown Lakes District Council Chief Engineer Ulrich Glasner told the Otago Daily Times the sudden spike in E.coli levels could be due "poor weather conditions creating a very choppy lake''. 

This could push the bacteria closer to the bay area.

Mr Glasner also thanked the public for taking note of the warning signs. 

An area of Lake Wakatipu, Frankton Bay, was found to be contaminated with high E.coli levels in February last year. And last month, antibiotic-resistant E.coli was discovered in three popular Canterbury rivers.

Fish & Game commissioned independent testing of the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata rivers in May and September, following concerns about river pollution from dairy farming.

The findings revealed the presence of an antibiotic-resistant E. coli and a dangerous strain of shiga toxin E. coli carried by cows.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Alistair Humphrey, at the time said the toxin can cause gastrointestinal problems, diarrhoea and vomiting - and more serious issues.


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