Titirangi beach will soon be swimmable
I can recall vividly when I was the age of five swimming at my local beach at Mangere Bridge. And collecting pipis.
Regrettably soon after the beach quickly became unswimmable. The Manukau was used by the city and by industry as a large dumping area. Mangere’s sewage works did their damage as did Southdown Freezing works and other industrial polluters in Otahuhu and Penrose. The health of the harbour declined.
More recently I have been deeply concerned at the number of unsafe swimming beaches out west. Titirangi Beach, Green Bay, Wood Bay and Laingholm Beach were closed a few years ago with permanent warnings put in place.
In 2016 the Waitakere Ranges Local Board published the Big Blue Report which provided a snapshot into current conditions out west and the likely causes. The rationale behind the report was to provide Council with a blueprint of what to do to improve the health of our waterways, especially the Manukau Harbour.
I am pleased that the report is having a positive effect. Slowly, gradually, thanks to the attention paid to the report by Council as well as the actions of dedicated locals things are improving.
In Laingholm thanks in large part to Deirdre Merle and others as well as Council’s Healthy Waters team the causes of pollution were identified and isolated and faulty infrastructure repaired. The health of the beach has since improved dramatically.
Titirangi Beach has been closed for a while but Council has now announced that its permanently closed status will be lifted. Council staff have identified and resolved nine public drainage issues and partially resolved 13 private drainage issues. The outlet sampling and Safeswim sampling have indicated significant water quality improvements and the long term warning will shortly be removed.
There will be occasions where the beach will still be closed in the future. But the Safeswim modelling will predict water quality and when it is safe to swim at the beach.
We should not stop here. The next step will be to improve Auckland’s infrastructure so that even after rain our beaches are swimmable. Under no circumstances should we use our harbours as dumping grounds.
Just as Deirdre Merle deserves mention for her work on Laingholm Beach Titirangi local Zoe Hawkins deserves praise for her advocacy to clean up Titirangi Beach. Local advocacy and activism is really important.
There are ongoing investigations at Wood Bay and Fosters Bay. In my view Council should address these beaches as a priority. But it is great to see that the vision behind the Big Blue Report, that our beaches ought to be swimmable, is gradually being achieved.
Beach by beach we should return the Manukau to its former glory. And one day, hopefully soon, five year old kids will be able to go to their local beach any time and go for a swim. And collect pipis.