WaikatoLink and the University of Waikato are working with councils to help keep New Zealand’s waterways clean and native wildlife safe.

Regional councils are responsible for maintaining the quality of lakes and rivers in New Zealand. This requires monitoring potentially harmful contaminants such as fertiliser runoff from farms and heavy metals from construction, which can impact native wildlife and the health of local communities. Right now, councils collect a single manual sample that provides a snapshot of water quality at that moment. However, many high-impact contaminants such as nitrate or phosphate fluctuate rapidly, meaning a single manual sample (possibly taken at a time when the contaminant level is particularly low, or particularly high) may not be a good indicator of overall health.

DGT are cheap disposable sensors that provide councils with much richer water quality information, enabling proactive and targeted environmental management practices. DGT provide information on average concentrations over a full deployment, rather than a ‘snapshot’ at time of sampling. This enables DGT to capture a measure of contaminant concentrations that more closely matches the impact that the contaminant has on the environment. The University of Waikato has used DGT for research purposes for several years.

Now, WaikatoLink and the University are working together to help councils and landowners adopt DGT. We will improve the knowledge foundation that forms the basis of environmental management practices, so New Zealand’s rivers and lakes (as well as the native plants, fish and invertebrate species living in them) are well looked after.

DGT for nitrate monitoring are available for purchase from WaikatoLink via Waikato Scientific Instruments. For more information contact Doug Hillyer at dhillyer@waikatolink.co.nz

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