Focus on groundwater trends at Spring meeting

It was great to get back together as a group this September, even if we had to jump on video-conferencing to make it happen, due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Lucy Millar, Chair OTOP Water Zone Committee

Lucy Millar, Chair OTOP Water Zone Committee

Groundwater trends

We had an interesting session, including a detailed presentation from Environment Canterbury on groundwater trends for Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora water zone (OTOP), following the release of its regional groundwater quality survey.

It was important for us to take the time to get across this latest science, which summarises the current state of groundwater quality, including nitrate levels, and provides analysis of trends over the past decade.

To carry out the survey, each spring Environment Canterbury collects samples from more than 300 wells - mostly privately owned - to help understand the state of the water resource and assess changes in groundwater quality over time.

In the OTOP area for 2020, 40 wells were tested against national drinking water standards. Although none were over the national Maximum Acceptable Value for nitrate concentrations, there were some wells that show an increasing trend over the past 10 years. 

This is a concern to the water zone committee – which is why it’s one of the priority issues in our new Action Plan 2021-24 (PDF file, 408 KB) and you’ll be hearing more from us on this topic.

At September’s meeting, we agreed to send a letter of support to Dr Tim Chambers, who is carrying out research into nitrate contamination at the University of Otago.

OTOP’s groundwater water quality results and monitoring are all publicly available on our website, as well as the national body Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) – I’d recommend you have a look in your area.

Welcoming new members

Also at our September session, we virtually welcomed one of our new community members, John Cruden, and look forward to hopefully having a real-life meeting in October, when another new community member, Sue Eddington, will join us. 

At that meeting, we will hold elections for chair and deputy chair, and discuss the appointment of a youth member.  

Looking ahead

October will also be a time for us to delve into the Action Plan I mentioned above and work out how, as a committee, we will make progress on our priorities. 

This might mean our formal meeting schedule will change, with more community events, field trips and other activities instead.

We will still give you plenty of warning of what is coming up on our calendar, so you can continue to stay involved and contribute to local water quality issues.

Find out when the next OTOP meeting is scheduled.