Boaties and kayakers reminded to use a loo this summer

Boating campaign poo in a loo

If you’re boating or kayaking on the lakes this summer, remember to plan ahead to use the toilets.

As the weather warms up and more people head to our lakes, people are being reminded to use the public toilets provided – including boaties and kayakers.

It only takes a single poo to pollute a swimming bay, so the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee is letting recreational lake users know what’s expected to protect water quality.

The ‘One Poo Can Close a Lake’ campaign, which kicked off last year with a focus on swimmers, campers and dog-walkers at Lake Ruataniwha, has been extended to include clear messaging for boat owners and kayakers as well, with its ‘Boating About? Don’t Get Caught Out’ posters, signage at boat ramps and additional toilets.

Bacteria and other pathogens from poo can make swimmers very sick and affect mahinga kai/food gathering and the māuri (life force) of the water. If the amount of bacteria reach the level for health warning, the recreation area may be closed, which can affect thousands of holidaymakers.

Plan toilet stops for your day on the lake

Surface water science team leader Shirley Hayward said it’s vital boaties utilise the toilets on hand.

"We’re encouraging boaties to travel to the toilets when they need to go. There are none on the south side of Lake Ruataniwha, so they will need to plan ahead," she said.

Shirley also warns some parts of the lake can be quite shallow and warm – increasing the risk of any discharge having an impact.

"Some bays where boaties may pull up to can be quite sensitive to waste material. If water quality readings show these spots have become contaminated, it may mean we have to close the area for a period of time," she said.

The main swimming area at Lake Ruataniwha was closed due to high bacteria levels for a few days over the peak holiday period in 2019. The recreational water quality grade of Lake Ruataniwha has improved over the past couple of years and is now classed as very good.

"This is because we haven’t had any recent significant E. coli high-concentration events. However, it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. There’s still a risk and that’s why it’s so important lake users understand their responsibilities," she said.

Committee’s involvement with the campaign

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee chair Simon Cameron at Lake Ruataniwha.

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee chair Simon Cameron at Lake Ruataniwha.

Committee chair Simon Cameron said he is really pleased to see the One Poo Can Close a Lake campaign up and running again this year.

"It serves as an important reminder to the community and visitors about what is expected of them when they visit our lakes," he said.

Simon said it’s looking to be another busy summer on the lakes and waterways.

"We’re expecting a good number of people again this summer and we’re really hoping everyone takes their responsibilities seriously," he said.

Other ways to Love Our Lakes

Being responsible when going to the toilet is just one of the ways people can respect the environment and the committee will continue to share its other summer-time Love Our Lakes messages.

The simple things everyone can do to Love Our Lakes are to get rid of any rubbish responsibly, wash clothes or dishes away from the lake, and take measures not to spread aquatic weeds (Check, Clean Dry).

Following these steps will reduce your impact on the water quality of our lakes and protect the native plants, animals and birds that live here as well.