The Bay of Plenty Regional Council monitors the lakes for algal blooms.
We monitor 13 sites for blue-green algae spread across four lakes; Lake Rotorua, Lake Rotoiti, Lake Rotoehu and Lake Ōkaro (we also monitor Lake Tarawera if required). These sites have been selected because they’ve been known to bloom in the past, and because they’re regularly used by the public for recreational activities, it’s important to ensure the water is safe.
Sites are given an alert level status based on the number of bacteria found, and these results help us decide whether a health warning should be put in place.
Yet, water sampling is only a snapshot from a particular time and place. Water quality can change quickly especially at the start of an algae bloom or after heavy rain when contaminants can be washed off the land and into waterways.
People should avoid swimming for at least two to three days after heavy or prolonged rain, even for sites that usually have good water quality. If you can’t see your toes in calf deep water, or lake water looks green and cloudy, it is best to wait until the water clears before taking a dip.
People should also avoid swimming near potential sources of contamination such as flocks of birds.
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