Coastal and Freshwater news

Cawthron Institute's coastal and freshwater scientists are helping address New Zealand's top environmental issue – degradation of water quality.
30 June 2015

Transparency on water use applauded

A leading freshwater scientist has applauded the addition of water quantity data to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) environmental website.

"Water is in high demand and is being valued more and more – it's our most precious resource. You can live without oil or gold, but you can't live without water," Cawthron Institute Freshwater Group Manager, Dr Roger Young, says.

"I'm really pleased to see water quantity data included in LAWA. It's great to have freely available, public information on how much water we have, who uses it, and how much is used - all in one place for the first time."

Along with river and coastal water quality data, the website now displays real-time data on river flow, groundwater and rainfall levels at over 1000 sites around New Zealand. It also shows how much water is available in different regions and how it is being used.

Cawthron Institute's research and advice on freshwater and coastal management makes a major contribution to addressing New Zealand's top environmental issue - degradation of water quality. It plays a significant role in assisting management of water quantity and quality issues throughout New Zealand, including determining how much water can be extracted from rivers without affecting habitat or damaging instream life, and when to take water so any effects are minimised.

"Water is in demand for irrigation, hydropower generation and even drinking water supply – plus it is critical for supporting our valuable aquatic ecosystems," Dr Young says.

"We're lucky in New Zealand because we have a reasonable rainfall, but at times we still do have shortages of water in some areas, so it's crucial that we manage this precious resource well."

Cawthron's expertise in this area is in demand from Northland to Southland and is helping to guide the current reforms in freshwater management. Its scientists provide services that are critical to sustaining and growing New Zealand's irrigation industry, which has a major economic benefit in regions throughout New Zealand. They have had a key role in many of the recent major irrigation expansion proposals throughout the country – including those in the Waimea Plains, Ruataniwha, Central Plains, Hurunui, and Wairarapa regions.

"We regularly operate on both sides of the debate, whether it's for the irrigation proponents or environmental advocacy groups," Dr Young says.

"Our focus is on providing independent, impartial and robust scientific advice and evidence to inform the debate and ensure wise decision-making around the use of this natural resource."

Find out more about our freshwater research:

Contact Roger Young, Freshwater Group Manager, Cawthron Institute
Phone:  +64 3 548 2319 ext 273 or +64 21 203 4228

Check out the Freshwater Services section of this website.

Read the LAWA media release