Tauranga City Council will be pushing to increase awareness of what should and shouldn't be flushed down toilets, after a wastewater pump blocked with wet wipes caused an overflow to contaminate Pilot Bay.
“They assessed there was a possibility the wastewater overflow may have had an impact on Pilot Bay,” says consents officer Radleigh Cairns.
“The first priority was to stop the overflow and discharge to stormwater. In a little over an hour the blockage was cleared, area disinfected, and stormwater sumps sucked out.
“Staff advised Bay of Plenty Regional Council of the potential pollution incident immediately and signage was erected at the potentially affected end of Pilot Bay at around 5.30pm.”
He says samples were taken at five points along Pilot Bay.
“The Marine bathing guidelines require testing for the presence of Enterococci. A result with over 140 Enterococci/100ml requires follow up sampling, with consecutive samples over 280 enterococci/100ml requiring the erection of warning signs.”
One of the samples taken on Saturday came back with an elevated result over 140, says Radleigh.
“As a result, warning signs will remain in place until follow up samples show levels below the Marine bathing guidelines.”
As the blockage at Pilot Bay was caused by wet wipes, Tauranga City Council will be sending residents in the area further information, as well as working with local accommodation providers to increase awareness around what should and shouldn't be flushed down the toilet.
“We have been increasing awareness around this issue for some time with information going out on the back of water rates, in advertising and through our social media channels.
“The awareness of the community around this issue appears to be increasing, and hopefully we will start seeing a reduction in these types of blockages.”
The council initially reported Pilot Bay would be reopened yesterday, but had to postpone after one of the five samples taken came back with high levels of bacteria.