Coastal and Freshwater news

Dr Roger Young in the field
23 February 2017

New Zealand freshwater quality reforms moving forward

Cawthron Institute welcomes the Government’s announcement of the latest round of freshwater reforms. The Government is proposing greater transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are swimmable and this will vary across seasons and places.

Cawthron Freshwater scientist Dr Roger Young is pleased to see increased transparency is a core feature of the announcement, “widely available data on what is happening in New Zealand freshwater is something that will greatly improve our understanding and ability to improve our freshwater environments.

“We provided some advice to the Ministry for the Environment on this and reviewed the modelling work that has been used to create countrywide maps of swimmability.

The Government today announced the target of 90% swimmability by 2040

“It’s important science continues to inform this debate. Almost no rivers will be swimmable all the time and even the worst rivers will be safe to swim in for some of the time.”

The Government today announced the target of 90% swimmability by 2040. In the meantime Dr Young encourages the public to get savvy about when the water’s likely to be safe, “It’s important to consider recent weather events before diving in to any river.

“Contaminants are washed into rivers following heavy rain, so most would be unsafe for swimming. On the flipside after long periods of good weather and steady flow, most New Zealand rivers will be okay.”

Cawthron Institute is a New Zealand leader in freshwater sciences with expertise in river health assessment, catchment management and the requirements for in-stream flows. They provide independent advice and research services on everything from water quality and fish habitats, through to understanding how river and lake ecosystems function and how to encourage them to thrive.

Media contact
Nicole Taber
Phone: 03 539 3212
Email: nicole.taber@cawthron.org.nz