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.
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.
Freshwater Update 76 brings you the latest information from our Freshwater & Estuaries Centre, with articles ranging from spring and river water condition to urban waters, didymo and aquatic plant scientists.
A group of volunteers who love the Hutt River are helping to care for it over summer.
Citizen scientists take on Hutt River
Citizen scientists take on Hutt River

Helping councils voice a position on improving monitoring and reporting of ‘swimmability’ in New Zealand

New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters are highly valued for swimming and other contact recreation activities. To satisfy both public health and state of the environment objectives, monitoring and reporting of the suitability of these waters for recreation must be meaningful and robust.

Biological Heritage and NIWA’s role

NIWA is a key contributor to the National Science Challenge on Biological Heritage hosted by Landcare Research. The challenge is to “Reverse the decline of New Zealand’s biological heritage, through a national partnership to deliver a step change in research innovation, globally leading technologies and community and sector action” and covers both terrestrial and freshwater environments.

A new online survey is forming the basis of the National Riparian Restoration Database, which will help scientists to improve understanding of how riparian buffers benefit waterways.

NIWA has developed a smart addition to its suite of tools assisting in the planning, regulation and evaluation of water use.
Since the end of June, a barge has been stationed just off Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula drilling into the seabed to find an alternative water source for the city.
A sophisticated buoy has been deployed in Wellington Harbour to “phone home” information about currents, waves and water quality in the harbour.
NIWA RIPARIAN SURVEY VIDEO
NIWA, supported by DairyNZ, are asking anyone who has planted along stream banks to take a short survey.
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.

Compound Specific Stable Isotope tracing of sediment sources - tools to manage a sticky problem in New Zealand’s freshwaters and estuaries

Fine sediment is New Zealand’s most widespread water contaminant, degrading ecosystems, infilling dams and reservoirs and impairing recreational, cultural and aesthetic values in our rivers, estuaries and coastal seas.
A buoy with the ability to “phone home” has been deployed in Wellington Harbour today to monitor currents, waves and water quality in the harbour.

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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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