Ted Talks - October 2021

Kaikōura Water Zone Committee chair Ted Howard

Kaikōura Water Zone Committee chair Ted Howard

Hear from Kaikōura Water Zone Committee chair Ted Howard, who explores water quality in the zone.

Just like that, another month or two has gone by! Recently, the Committee heard from Environment Canterbury staff, who presented data and trends for Kaikōura’s surface and groundwater quality.

Surface water is our rivers, lakes, and streams, while groundwater is a valuable supply of freshwater for drinking water, irrigation, and industry. Groundwater is also the source of spring-fed streams – many of which we have in Kaikōura.

Both are connected so it’s important to consider their health together and it was great to hear that water quality results for both surface and groundwater in Kaikōura are generally positive.

Sources of drinking water in Kaikōura

There are two main sources for Kaikōura’s drinking water – publicly supplied networks and private wells.

Kaikōura District Council (KDC) operates eight public water supply schemes supplying water/kātao to more than three-thousand properties. It is responsible for the supply, distribution, treatment, and safe supply of drinking water.

Private wells are the responsibility of landowners and must be independently tested to ensure they are safe, particularly if they are being used as a source of drinking water for visitors.

Water testing

Environment Canterbury’s role is to monitor and test our drinking water and protect it at its source.

There are rules in place designed to control land-use to minimize the risk of drinking water contamination from people, stock or recreation.  And no rule is ever going to be totally effective in all contexts, so we all need to be responsible, to the best of our limited and fallible abilities.

The results from Environment Canterbury’s regular groundwater testing in Kaikōura was positive. Nitrate concentrations have been reasonably stable, and well below world health guidelines, over the last five years which is a reassuring sign. High nitrate concentrations in water can have negative environmental impacts and can be toxic for human consumption.

River water quality testing also concluded that 92 per cent of monitored river sites in the zone were classed as A-grade for nitrate-nitrogen (as per National Policy Statement for Freshwater guidelines). This means there is little to no toxic effect on aquatic fauna at these sites. The other 8 per cent of sites were classed B-grade (median of between 1-2.4 mg/L nitrate-nitrogen).

Finding information

All testing results are made publicly available through Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA).There’s some really great information on there – if you’re interested in water quality data, trends and testing I highly recommend having a browse.

If you’d like to see more information on water quality in our zone, take a look at these resources:

Nga mihi nui,

Ted.