Suitability for Contact Recreation Grades (SFR Grades)


Marlborough is at Orange

Marlborough is at Orange level of the Covid-19 Protection Framework (the traffic light system).

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Suitability for Contact Recreation Grades (SFR Grades)

The SFR Grade gives an overall measure of the recreational water quality of a site. It is based on the concentration of indicator bacteria that were measured over five consecutive summers at a site. An assessment of potential sources of contamination that could impact the water quality of a site is also part of the process of assigning an SFR Grade.

Read more about indicator bacteria

Read more about how SFR Grades are assigned

There are five SFR Grades ranging from very good to very poor. The table below shows the grades and their meaning.

SFR Grade Meaning
Very Good Considered satisfactory for swimming at all times.
Good Satisfactory for swimming most of the time with exceptions following rainfall.
Fair Generally satisfactory for swimming. Caution should be taken during periods of high rainfall and swimming avoided if water is discoloured.
Poor Swimming should be avoided, particularly by the very young, the very old and those with compromised immunity.
Very Poor Generally swimming is not recommended.

The SFR Grades are reviewed every two to three years. A site has to be monitored for a minimum of five summers before an SFR Grade can be assigned. However, if only one year is missing, an interim SFR Grade can be assigned. The table below shows the current SFR Grades. Sites marked with two asterisks (**) have interim SFR Grades.

Find out what the MAC (Microbiological Assessment Category) and SIC (Sanitary Inspection Category) mean

Site SIC
(Sanitary Inspection Category)
(microbiological Assessment Category)
SFR Grade
(Suitability for Contact Recreation Grade)

Coastal Sites

Moetapu Bay Insufficient data
Mistletoe Bay Moderate C Fair
Anakiwa Moderate C Fair
Momorangi Bay Moderate D Poor
Ngakuta Bay Low B Good
Governors Bay** Low B Good
Picton Foreshore Moderate C Fair
Waikawa Bay Low B Good
Waikutakuta/Robin Hood Bay East** Very Low B Very Good
Waikutakuta/Robin Hood Bay West** Low B Good
Pukatea/Whites Bay Very Low A Very Good
Marfells Beach Very Low A Very Good

River Sites
Rai River at Rai Falls Moderate D Poor
Te Hoiere/Pelorus River at Pelorus Bridge Low B Good
Te Hoiere/Pelorus River at Totara Flat Moderate C Fair
Wairau River at State Highway 6** Moderate C Fair
Wairau River at Ferry Bridge Moderate C Fair
Wairau River at Blenheim Rowing Club Moderate B Good
Taylor River at Riverside High D Very Poor
Ōpaoa River at Elizabeth Street Bridge Moderate C Fair
Waihopai River at Craiglochart #2 Moderate C Poor
  • Calculation of the MAC

    The MAC is calculated as the upper 95th percentile of indicator bacteria concentrations over five consecutive summer seasons.

  • How SFR Grades Are Assigned

    Council uses the ‘BatheWatch’ software provided by the Ministry for the Environment to assign SFR Grades.

  • Indicator Bacteria

    A cost-effective approach to measuring the concentration of microorganisms that could affect the health of swimmers is the use of indicator bacteria.