Water Quality

Latest news

It may be rubbish to everyone else, but to Amanda Valois each little scrap of plastic on a river bank or in a waterway tells a valuable story.
New Zealand is a land of erosion. We’re losing about 192 million tonnes of soil a year, according to the latest report Our Land 2018, from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ.
A project to restore a stream catchment in Kaikōura—damaged in the 2016 earthquake—is being described as inspirational by NIWA scientists.
The hard concrete surfaces that characterise New Zealand towns and cities are barely likely to register as a problem with most people. But they're never far from the minds of our urban water researchers.

Our work

NIWA is undertaking a five-year nationwide study to find out how different approaches to riparian planting influence water quality improvements and to provide better guidance to the people and groups undertaking stream restoration.
Many of New Zealand's rivers fail to meet national guidelines for nutrient levels. NIWA has developed the Catchment Land Use & Environmental Sustainability (CLUES) estuary tool to predict the effects of land use on estuarine nutrient concentrations.

New Zealand’s freshwater and estuarine resources provide significant cultural, economic, social, and environmental benefits. Competition for the use of these resources is intensifying, and many rivers, lakes and estuaries are now degraded. Māori are particularly sensitive to the use and development of freshwater, and hold distinct perspectives concerning their identity, knowledge, and custodial obligations to manage tribal waters.

Many of New Zealand's aquatic ecosystems, and their services, are in a degraded and often worsening state. NIWA is involved in research and consultation' aimed at improving the health of our freshwater systems.

Latest videos

Waikoropupu Springs video
NIWA freshwater scientists have completed monitoring the ultra-clear water of the Te Waikoropupū Springs near Takaka.
Water sensitive Urban Design - Extended version

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) has emerged as a form of development that, among other objectives, aims to deliver resilient water ways providing a range of benefits to urban communities.

Water Sensitive Urban Design
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) has emerged as a form of development that, among other objectives, aims to deliver resilient water ways providing a range of benefits to urban communities.
Citizen scientists take on Hutt River
Citizen scientists take on Hutt River
This project aims to increase our knowledge of aquatic ecosystems and their restoration, and apply this to degraded streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries.
It may be rubbish to everyone else, but to Amanda Valois each little scrap of plastic on a river bank or in a waterway tells a valuable story.
NIWA's Urban Runoff Quality Information System (URQIS) provides planners, engineers and researchers with information about the quality of stormwater from different locations and landuses and under different flow conditions.
New Zealand is a land of erosion. We’re losing about 192 million tonnes of soil a year, according to the latest report Our Land 2018, from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ.

‘Swimmability’ of New Zealand rivers

Swimming is a popular activity in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Two attributes of waters that strongly affect aesthetic quality and safety for swimming are visual clarity and faecal contamination. It turns out that these two attributes are fairly well-correlated (inversely) in New Zealand rivers, such that (easily seen) visual clarity provides a rough-but-useful guide to (unseen) microbial quality.

Freshwater Update 78 brings you the latest information from our Freshwater & Estuaries Centre, with articles that cross a broad spectrum of freshwater research, from archives to aquifers, periphyton guidance, geo-engineering and swimmability.

A project to restore a stream catchment in Kaikōura—damaged in the 2016 earthquake—is being described as inspirational by NIWA scientists.
The hard concrete surfaces that characterise New Zealand towns and cities are barely likely to register as a problem with most people. But they're never far from the minds of our urban water researchers.

Water storage solutions for irrigation schemes

Demand for water has intensified over the past two decades at a phenomenal rate in New Zealand. Most easy-to-abstract direct run-of-stream resources (i.e. flows without existing upstream modification) are already highly allocated in many regions. With availability of further run-of-stream resources decreasing, farmers are looking more to water storage as a way of achieving more reliable irrigation water supply. This approach allows more water to be made available at the time of need and thus enhances supply reliability.

Irrigation Insight

The Irrigation Insight programme is focussed on developing knowledge, tools and the confidence of dairy farmers in better managing irrigation, precisely applying the water needed—where, when and how much.
EFSAP is a water planning and management tool designed to assist with setting regional or large-scale water resource use limits for rivers.
On the bottom of New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs is an underwater garden of vivid green, pinks and inky blues.
Waikoropupu Springs video
NIWA freshwater scientists have completed monitoring the ultra-clear water of the Te Waikoropupū Springs near Takaka.
Water sensitive Urban Design - Extended version

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) has emerged as a form of development that, among other objectives, aims to deliver resilient water ways providing a range of benefits to urban communities.

Ruth Beran discovers that public interest in the state of fresh waterways has driven a dramatic change in the tools used by scientists.
Water Sensitive Urban Design
Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) has emerged as a form of development that, among other objectives, aims to deliver resilient water ways providing a range of benefits to urban communities.

Assessment of Resilience in Urban Social-Ecological Systems

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) has emerged as a form of development that, among other objectives, aims to deliver resilient water ways providing a range of benefits to urban communities. NIWA’s Urban Aquatic Environments group has investigated how resilience concepts provide a basis for discriminating between WSUD and conventional urban development approaches.

The origin of Didymo

Didymo, a mat-forming freshwater diatom is now a familiar and unwelcome feature of many South Island rivers. In New Zealand, it is generally accepted that didymo is an introduced organism, but not everyone accepts that. New science provides a strong case for its ‘introduced organism’ status.

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