Third summer helping monitor water quality for Edward Heenan

Edward Heenan has just spent his third summer with us, taking part in the summer student programme in the water quality monitoring team.

The 21-year-old has been taking part in the summer student programme since he started his Bachelor of Science and Geography at the University of Otago three years ago.

Edward first applied for the programme when living in Timaru and spent two summers working with us in South Canterbury, before making the move to Christchurch where he is completing another summer of work through the programme.

The work Edward has been doing has focused on measuring water quality to let the community know where it’s safe to swim. Find out more about Can I Swim Here (CISH).

Monitoring water quality

From November to March, we monitor water quality at popular swim spots each week. Up-to-date information is essential so you can make decisions about where is good to swim and avoid becoming ill.

Check the water quality for more than 100 sites in our region under the ‘Can I Swim Here’ section of the Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website.

Each day Edward visits between 8–13 sites to sample water quality.

While there, Edward collects E. coli and Enterococci samples to be taken to a laboratory for testing, as well as doing a visual check of riverbeds looking for potentially toxic algae (cyanobacteria).  

“I really enjoy getting to go out and about so much. Visiting some of Canterbury’s best swimming spots isn’t a bad way to spend your summer,” he said.

He also spends one day a week in the office, processing data and filling out spreadsheets.

“Being able to put what I’ve learnt at university into practice is really cool and it helps with my studies as well, having that working understanding,” he said.

Edward said some of the highlights of his time with Environment Canterbury include the people he’s met, the skills he’s acquired and the career opportunities he’s learnt about.

Future plans

He is set to continue studying this year, this time at Lincoln University starting a Master’s in Environmental Policy and Management.

“This will take around 18 months, so hopefully I’ll be back next summer to help out with the CISH campaign again,” Edward said.

Once he completes his Master’s, he hopes to get a job that involves river work.

“That could be to do with river water quality or perhaps even hydrology,” he said.

Find out more