Search all sites near me now
Search your favourite swimming spots
Warning in effect for sites in this regionRead more

Otago region

River Quality

More than 60 river and stream sites are included in Otago Regional Council’s State of Environment monitoring programme, and an additional eight sites are monitored by NIWA.

The sampling sites cover a range of land uses and catchment land cover. Monitoring is focused on areas where there is potential for some pressure on water quality due to urban or farming activity. Therefore, many low- risk less populated river catchments are not monitored regularly.

The quality of water in much of Otago is among the highest in New Zealand. Over the past 10 years, water quality monitoring has shown that the rivers draining the higher altitude and lesser developed areas, and the outlets of the large lakes in Central Otago, consistently have excellent water quality. Rivers with very good water quality also include the Kawarau, Cardrona, Catlins, Shag, Waikouaiti and Waipori.

The effects of urbanisation and intensive farming are putting pressure on water quality and aquatic ecosystems. Dunedin’s urban waterways have some stormwater contamination and intensive farming is having a detrimental affect on rivers in south and west Otago. However, water quality is improving in those areas which did have problems caused by larger urban and industrial waste discharges (point source pollution).

The distinctive and characteristic landscape of Otago includes the Southern Alps and alpine lakes, large High Country stations, dry central areas with tussock grassland and tors. There are dramatic coastlines around the Otago Peninsula and the Catlins and lowland pasture country is common in the west.

Approximately 23% of New Zealand’s lake surface area occurs in Otago and the region produces 17% of New Zealand’s hydroelectric generation. Despite large total water volumes present in the region, many areas of Otago are locally short of summertime water and irrigation is an important feature.

Rainfall throughout Otago is highly variable. Predominant westerly winds and strong mountainous influences caused by the Southern Alps result in the Clutha headwaters receiving up to 2,400 mm as an annual average. Central Otago receives much less rain lower due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps, with Alexandra and the Upper Taieri receiving on average less than 400 mm annually, the lowest totals in Otago.

The Manuherikia Valley has an average of between 400 and 500 mm and the Shag and Kakanui an average of 600 mm. Strong southerly, south-easterly or easterly winds can also being heavy rain to the south and east of Otago. Average annual rainfall in the lower Clutha catchment is about 600 mm, the Pomahaka catchment 850 mm, and the upper Water of Leith more than 1,000 mm.

Catchments 16 Scientific Indicators
Scientific data for this region

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

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

  • 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.

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
{{stateMsg(ECOLI.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(ECOLI)}}

Clarity

Clarity

Black disc
State
{{stateMsg(BDISC.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(BDISC)}}

Clarity

Turbidity
State
{{stateMsg(TURB.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(TURB)}}

Nitrogen

Nitrogen

Total Nitrogen
State
{{stateMsg(TN.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(TN)}}

Nitrogen

Total Oxidised Nitrogen
State
{{stateMsg(TON.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(TON)}}

Nitrogen

Ammoniacal Nitrogen
State
{{stateMsg(NH4.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(NH4)}}

Phosphorus

Phosphorus

Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus
State
{{stateMsg(DRP.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(DRP)}}

Phosphorus

Total Phosphorus
State
{{stateMsg(TP.StateScore)}}
Trend
{{trendMsg(TP)}}

Download Data

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

 LAWA Partners shall not be liable, whether in contract, tort, equity or otherwise, for any loss or damage of any type (including consequential losses) arising directly or indirectly from the inadequacy, inaccuracy or any other deficiency in information supplied irrespective of the cause.  Use of information supplied is entirely at the risk of the recipient and shall be deemed to be acceptance of this liability exclusion.