Lowdown on quality of water in lakes, rivers

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014

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The water quality for every river and lake in New Zealand is now only a click away thanks to a new website.

Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) was launched this week, and collects information on all the country's rivers and lakes.

Environment Canterbury water quality scientist Tim Davie said the project was a major undertaking.

The website is a collaboration between the 16 regional and unitary councils, the Ministry for the Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University.

"In terms of the data, it's the same as what appears on our own website, but the difference is that it compares it to the national median," Dr Davie said. "This means that you compare the water quality levels of your favourite local swimming or fishing spot with the rest of the country. It's going to be a really useful resource."

It could take up to two months for all of the national data to be uploaded on to the website, he said.

"However, once it's all finalised, it should be easy to navigate. It's great to have it all in one spot."

The site would also allow users to see where a river or catchment's quality was improving, degrading or stable. Sites were graded according to nitrate and E.coli levels, as well as their suitability for recreational use.

"It's been quite a major data-collecting exercise. We've collected up to 10 years' worth of data for many of our main monitoring sites, and other regional councils have done the same," Dr Davie said.

"I expect this site to grow and become more accessible as councils become more used to how it works."

You can check out your local swimming spot on lawa.org.nz/

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- The Timaru Herald

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