Water Quality

Latest news

At the bottom of our lakes are NIWA divers with waterproof clipboards. Sarah Fraser jumps in to find out what they’re doing.
The latest state of the environment report released today provides New Zealanders with clear evidence that our climate, freshwater and marine systems are changing, says NIWA.
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.

Our work

Eutrophication occurs when nutrients in streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries cause excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae (primary producers).
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.

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.

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.

Latest videos

SHMAK Habitat - Rubbish
The SHMAK method for rubbish involves collecting and identifying all the rubbish (litter) in the stream and on the stream banks.
SHMAK Habitat – Visual Habitat Assessment
The SHMAK visual habitat assessment gives your stream a score that you can use to assess changes over time or compare streams.
SHMAK Habitat – Streambed Composition
Two methods for describing streambed composition: the visual assessment method is quicker while the Wolman walk is more accurate.
SHMAK Stream Life – How to Sort and Identify your Benthic Macroinvertebrate Sample
Use an ice-cream tray to isolate and separate your invertebrates. The Benthic Macroinvertebrate Field Guide helps you with identification.
At the bottom of our lakes are NIWA divers with waterproof clipboards. Sarah Fraser jumps in to find out what they’re doing.

Freshwater Update 81 brings you the latest information from our Freshwater & Estuaries Centre, with articles ranging from how NIWA scientists are solving the longfin eel migration mystery, how we're taking you diving with us at Fieldays, and a word from one of the editors of the new Lakes Restoration Handbook.

The latest state of the environment report released today provides New Zealanders with clear evidence that our climate, freshwater and marine systems are changing, says NIWA.

Freshwater Update 80 brings you the latest information from our Freshwater & Estuaries Centre, with articles that cross a broad spectrum of freshwater research. This edition has articles about the sources of plastics in our waterways, the discovery of long-lost lake plant species and a breakthrough in research about freshwater mussels/kākahi.

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.
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.

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.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
Principal Scientist - Ecosystem Modelling
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Principal Scientist - Aquatic Pollution
Principal Scientist - Catchment Processes
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Riparian and Wetland Scientist
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Land and Water Scientist
Wastewater Scientist
Principal Scientist - Aquatic Pollution
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Hydrology Scientist
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Environmental Monitoring Technician
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Coastal Technician
Environmental Monitoring Technician
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Catchment Modeller
Resource Management Scientist
Regional Manager - Auckland
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Environmental Scientist
Environmental Research/Science Communication
Algal Ecologist
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Principal Technician - Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
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