We all want Otago’s streams, rivers and lakes to have good enough water quality for swimming, gathering food, and to support healthy ecosystems.

We're working with communities around Otago to ensure that our waterways are improving, for our own use and for our future.

Every summer from 1 December until 31 March, ORC monitors popular swimming spots around Otago every week to check that the water quality is safe enough for swimming.

Visit LAWA – Can I swim here? to find information on your favourite swimming spot.

Here are some tips for safe swimming:

  • Avoid swimming for at least 2-3 days after heavy or prolonged rain, even for sites that have good water quality.
  • If you can’t see your toes in calf-deep water, it is best to wait until the water clears before taking a dip.

National targets were set in 2017 to reflect people’s desire for our rivers and lakes to be swimmable. As a nation, we’re working toward 80% of specified rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2030 and 90% by 2040.

In Otago, 82% of our rivers and lakes are swimmable (as defined by the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, or NPS-FM). That said, we’re not going let that success get in the way of making more progress! We’ve set our own regional targets and are working toward 90% of rivers and 98% of lakes being swimmable by 2030, and 95% of rivers and 100% of lakes swimmable by 2040.