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Conway River

The Conway River is in the Waiau-Hurunui management zone (WHZ) which covers 6,095 square kilometres and is home to over 11,500 people. The river starts in the Amuri Range near Palmer Saddle and runs for 30 km south-east through the Hundalee Hills at the south end of the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges before turning north-east and reaching the Pacific Ocean 30 km south of Kaikoura. Limestone Stream and the Charwell River are tributaries of the Conway.

The upper reaches of the Conway River catchment are dominated by native vegetation, and the middle and lower reaches are mainly used for beef and sheep finishing, cropping and dairying. Two sites are monitored routinely on the Conway  River for water quality as part of Environment Canterbury’s state of environment (SoE) monitoring programme. Another site, on the Charwell River has been monitored in the past. These sites represent upper and lower reaches of hill-fed rivers. 

Increasing pressure is being placed on the Conway by intensifying land-use and increased demand for water supplies. Lowland areas are the worst affected. The best water quality is often found in the upper reaches of the Conway where there has been less change to the catchment and less human activity. The poorest water quality is typically found at sites nearer the coast where waterways are under pressure from increasing land-use intensification.

The upper reaches of the Conway River have high water quality and low concentrations of nutrients and bacteria. This is typical of alpine / hill-fed rivers dominated by natural vegetation. In the lower reaches nutrient concentrations and bacterial indicators increase. Sources of bacterial contamination are likely to include the effects of intensive land-use in the middle catchment area and birds living in the riverbed. The bacterial quality of the river at State Highway 1 is often poor during summer, which reduces the recreational value of the river.

Sites 4

Monitored sites in the Conway River catchment

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Scientific Indicators
Scientific data for this catchment

This dashboard shows information on the data collected by the regional councils for water quality indicators, analysed as state and trend.

The state for the catchment is represented by the median concentration for the parameter across all sites within the catchment and then compares that value to the quartiles for all monitored sites in New Zealand.

Click on the parameters state icons to compare this catchment with others in the region.

  • State

    State shows how the median of samples from this site compares to other sites

  • Trend

    Trend shows how the quality of water is changing over time. Depending on the sampling history duration, five and ten year timescales are available:

Can I trust this data?

The Cawthron Institute has worked alongside regional councils to verify the processes and methods used for data collection, laboratory analysis of samples collected and the statistical analysis and interpretation of the results presented.

If all Cawthron ticks are green, then you can trust this data. However, if one or more ticks are orange, then conclusions should be treated with some caution.

For more details on each tick, see our 'Can I Trust This Data?' Factsheet.

Can I trust the data?
Data Collection

All samples were collected using approved field protocols and have been analysed in accredited laboratories. Therefore the data shown here has been collected and analysed following best practice.

State

All samples were collected using approved field protocols and have been analysed in accredited laboratories. Therefore the data shown here can be trusted.

Trend - Adjustment for flow

This data is not flow adjusted. National guidelines suggest that flow-sensitive variables are flow 'adjusted' before trend analysis. Therefore, any trends shown here may be affected by variations in flow across sampling occasions.

Bacteria

E. coli
State
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Trend
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Clarity

Clarity

Black disc
State
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Trend
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Clarity

Turbidity
State
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Trend
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Nitrogen

Nitrogen

Total Nitrogen
State
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Trend
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Nitrogen

Total Oxidised Nitrogen
State
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Trend
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Nitrogen

Ammoniacal Nitrogen
State
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Trend
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Phosphorus

Phosphorus

Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus
State
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Trend
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Phosphorus

Total Phosphorus
State
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Trend
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Download Data

.ZIP file of indicator readings for all sites in New Zealand
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