by Eugenie Sage
Check out a new website on water quality information launched this week. It’s a co-operative effort by regional and unitary councils to provide accessible water quality information for each of New Zealand‘s 16 regions in one place.
A useful feature of the site is that it focuses on river catchments and that it provides information on water quality monitoring parameters such as turbidity, e- coli, total nitrogen and total phosphorus catchment by catchment. It includes some basic trend information for each of the parameters and shows where council’s water quality monitoring sites are located.
The initiative of bringing together regional information onto one site is an excellent one because it will help ensure that water quality monitoring parameters are consistent across New Zealand and improve state of the environment reporting. Being able to compare apples with apples is a good start in assessing problems with water quality.
The site includes case studies for how councils are tackling land use and water quality issues around the country such as the Lake Taupō nitrogen trading and an erosion management programme in the Wairarapa hill country.
A useful next step would be to make the site interactive so that the public can easily report water pollution problems. The people that live beside our country’s rivers and streams can serve as the eyes and ears of regional and unitary councils who are often stretched for resources. It would be great to allow them to interact with councils through this website.
The regional councils also aim to include some coastal water quality information on the site, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.