Pilot Bay is among the popular Western Bay of Plenty swimming spots that swimmers are either advised to visit with caution or avoid.
Land, Air, Water Aotearoa has compiled a map of swimming spots across the country, using available data to determine the safest places to swim.
Popular sites such as the Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Omokoroa Beach, and Waihi Beach have the all clear, but Pilot Bay has been given a status of ‘usually suitable for swimming but younger children and older people may be at increased risk at times’.
The status is based on overall bacterial (enterococci for marine water, e. coli for freshwater) risk in the last three years.
Testing at Pilot Bay since October 2017 has shown enterococci levels to generally be 10 per 100ml, with spikes up to 125 per 100ml over the summer.
In January, a wastewater overflow, caused by flushed wet wipes blocking a wastewater pump, contaminated Pilot Bay and prompted Tauranga City Council to erect signs advising people not swim in the area.
A sample taken at Pilot Bay at the time came back with a result of more than 140 enterococci per 100ml, and the signs remained up until further testing showed the levels of enterococci in the water had dropped.
The Waimapu Estuary also has a similar warning as Pilot Bay placed on it, and as recently as January 23 returned a result of 1000 enterococci per 100ml.
The Wairoa River, from McLaren Falls to the sea, is deemed unsuitable for swimming, and as recently as November 9, 2017 returned a result of 5200 e. coli per 100ml at the Wairoa Bridge, and 14900 e. coli per 100ml on January 4 just below McLaren Falls.
Kaiate Stream at Kaiate Falls is also deemed unsuitable for swimming, as is the Uretara River in Katikati and Ongare Point.