Boost for water quality data

Understanding and improving our local rivers and waterways requires high quality information that is easily accessible. In the wake of World Rivers Day (24 September 2017)  the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website allows the latest information on the state of our regions water quality to be viewed on one central site.

As well as providing information on the quality of Marlborough’s waterways, lawa.org.nz allows easy access to data from over 1400 lake and river monitoring sites across New Zealand.

A collaboration between New Zealand’s regional and unitary councils, the Cawthron Institute and the Ministry for the Environment, LAWA pulls together data on water, air and land quality from around the country.

Marlborough District Council Land and Water Team Leader Peter Hamill says even though the water quality of Marlborough’s rivers stacks up pretty well compared to other regions there is no place for complacency. 

“We know that land use impacts on the water quality of our rivers and streams therefore we need to ensure that contaminants from the land do not reach our waterways. Fencing stock from streams and when we can, planting riparian margins will help to minimise any potential damage.

“River water quality can also be impacted from natural sources.  If we look specifically at the Awatere River, which has the poorest water quality of the rivers that are monitored in Marlborough, we see that turbidity, or the cloudiness of the water as a result of sediment, is the main issue. Although a large proportion of this is due to natural sources, works in the river when maintaining water intakes also have a flow on effect in relation to turbidity levels.

We know that supporting a healthy aquatic community is key to the general health of the river. To do this we have to ensure the water quality is suitable and enough water remains in the river, which is why we have low flow irrigation cutoffs,” Peter says.

“We all have a part to play when it comes to protecting and improving the quality of our waterways. Although the Council and the community have made some real gains there is always more we can do to ensure clean, healthy waterways for the next generation,” Peter says.