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Councils are already struggling with swimmability targets.


ANALYSIS: New Zealand's unswimmable rivers, by length, would span around 14,000 kilometres end to end. It is roughly the distance between Auckland and New York. If Michael Phelps was swimming at max speed, 24 hours a day, it would take him two months to traverse our polluted rivers.

The scale of restoring those rivers is enormous, and the task has largely been left to local authorities. We now know they will struggle, with the bill likely to be in the billions of dollars to get just a part of the way there.

When the former Government announced a nationwide swimmability standard early last year, the backlash was immediate. The standard, based on E coli levels over time, was described as confusing, even by the county's top freshwater scientists. Read more