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.

Pest species of fish and plants will need to be controlled or eradicated if they are threatening the success of your restoration project.

If the low abundance of fish in your stream is not related to a reduction in habitat, waterquality, flow or the presence of downstream barriers, it might be due to the inability of juvenile fish to enter the stream.

The known water quality preferences and tolerances (temperature, pH, oxygen, ammonia and turbidity) for common native fish are shown in the table at the bottom of the page.

How may wind energy generation activities influence sediments in waterways?
What are the impacts of geothermal energy generation activities on water temperatures?
Generating electricity creates a lot of wasted energy in the form of heat, which then needs to be cooled before it can be discharged into the environment.
How may hydro-dams influence sediments in waterways?
How do hydro-electricity activities potentially influence waterway temperatures?
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.
What are the potential sources of nutrients from land use activities?

What are the potential sources of infectious substances from land use activities?

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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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