Posted: December 23, 2019 at 4:53 am

Photo by Daniel Stockman

In-time for holiday beach time and New Zealand’s swimming season, we’ve teamed up with Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) to automate the data exchange for New Zealand’s 700 monitored beaches featured on Swim Guide thanks to LAWA’s commitment to open data and public access to water quality information. 

Over the course of New Zealand’s summer (from November to March), environmental officers from New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils regularly monitor popular swim spots. The results are published on the LAWA website as soon as they are processed. 

“This is a world first,” says Swim Guide Program Manager Gabrielle Parent-Doliner, “For the first time, we are automating all recreational bathing data in a single country in one go, thanks to LAWA’s commitment to public access.”

How is LAWA and Swim Guide helping more people around the world discover New Zealand’s extraordinary beaches, rivers, and lakes? 

Senior Water Quality Scientist and LAWA Can I swim here? Project Lead Anna Madarasz-Smith explains: 

“LAWA is focused on helping New Zealanders find where’s good to swim, but the question ‘Can I swim here?’ is also asked by visiting family, friends, and tourists. We’ve teamed up with Swim Guide to help holidaymakers get the information they need to stay safe while swimming in our great outdoors

New Zealand is home to beautiful waterways across all 16 regions of New Zealand and the majority of our popular swim spots are suitable for swimming most of the time. However, some sites are more suitable than others and even sites that usually have great recreational water quality can be affected by heavy rain. 

For three summers, the ‘Can I swim here?’ topic on the LAWA website has been helping Kiwis decide where’s good to swim. It’s great to be able to increase the reach of our important public health information by providing the latest summer water quality monitoring results and warnings to Swim Guide.” 

Photo by clement127

Why will open recreational water quality data change the way people go to the beach? 

Open data means data that is accessible for anyone to use and share.

Recreational water quality must get into the hands of the public as quickly as possible in order for people to use it to protect their health from recreational water illnesses. As well as find great places to swim and explore. 

LAWA’s open recreational water quality data allows Swim Guide to automatically share current information about the 700 monitored beaches, lakes, rivers, and streams in New Zealand. This helps people access information about any risks to their health and find great places to swim. 

LAWA has been making New Zealand’s environmental data and information open and accessible since 2014. LAWA and Swim Drink Fish, the initiative that created Swim Guide, are both driven to connect people to water collect data, and share water quality information with the public in an accessible, easy to understand way. 

“There is growing demand around the world for real-time, easy to understand, accessible water quality data. LAWA is leading the way internationally with their unique open data and when it comes to helping people connect with their local waters,” says Mark Mattson, president of Swim Drink Fish

How can you find recent recreational water quality data on New Zealand’s monitored beaches?

 New Zealand’s summer recreational water quality monitoring programmes are now active and up-to-date results are live on LAWA and Swim Guide.

For more on where to swim in New Zealand, visit our city pages for Christchurch and Auckland.

About LAWA

Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has been established by like-minded organizations with a view to helping local communities find the balance between using natural resources and maintaining their quality and availability. LAWA connects us with the environment by sharing environmental data and information.   

Initially a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional councils and unitary authorities, LAWA is now a partnership between the councils, Cawthron Institute, and the Ministry for the Environment and  has been supported by the Tindall Foundation and Massey University.


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