At the Council meeting last week, councillors approved the final swimmability targets for Southland. The targets are a requirement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2017 (NPS-FM).
Councillors approved the final target for 2030 as 65.7% of rivers and 98% of lakes, and the 2040 target as 80% of rivers and 98% of lakes.
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said the final targets were a commitment by Council to continue improving the quality of Southland's waterways to 2040 and beyond.
“Our recent conversations with the community about their favourite places to swim reinforced how important it is for people to have access to safe swimming spots.”
Under the NPS-FM, regional councils are required to identify and develop targets for increasing the number of rivers and lakes that are suitable for swimming, with an overall national goal of 80% of lakes and rivers swimmable by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
Information released by the Ministry for the Environment showed that currently 62% of Southland rivers and 98% of lakes are swimmable. In March, Council notified swimmability targets of 65.7% of rivers and 98% of lakes based on modelling that had been done of existing work and action being taken on the ground.
While targets are required to be set by 31 December 2018, the People, Water and Land programme will allow for further opportunity to review these targets, in liaison with the community and local iwi.
Through this programme the community will be able to consider additional factors relating to swimming, such as clarity, colour, access, water depth and flow.
In the meantime, you can check where it's safe to swim this summer by clicking the 'Can I swim here' link at lawa.org.nz.
Read more about the final swimmability targets here.