24 September 2017

New information to help Bay of Plenty locals to check on the state of their waterways is available online from today, World Rivers Day, on the Land Air Water Aotearoa  (LAWA) website.

“LAWA brings together environmental monitoring data from 16 regional and unitary councils across the country, and ensures it’s credible through independent verification by Cawthron Institute.  It means everyone can access some of the country’s best science information and see what it’s saying about the state of our land, air and water over time,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Science Manager Rob Donald.

The LAWA website www.lawa.org.nz is regularly updated throughout the year, but annual trends from lake, river and macroinvertebrate (aquatic insect) monitoring have been updated with 2016 data from today. A new land-cover section, that helps people explore the connection between land use and water quality, has also gone live for the first time today.

The new land-cover module includes descriptions and extent of various types of vegetation, water bodies, built environments, and bare natural surfaces (such as gravel and rock) throughout the country. It also shows how these have changed over time.

Mr Donald said that the type and location of vegetation cover can influence land stability, the amount of sediment and contaminants reaching our waterways and the movement of water through the landscape.

“So it’s a useful part of the picture when people are trying to understand what impacts water quality, and what might need to be done to improve it,” he said.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Local Government New Zealand Regional Sector Chairman Doug Leeder said that it is increasingly important the public has up-to-date information on the quality of their waterways.

“Having easy access to reliable information will create a greater understanding on the state of our waterways, help people make good choices about how they use them, and help support the changes that they want to see for their lakes and rivers,” Mr Leeder said.

Further information about LAWA

  • LAWA was launched in 2014 to provide New Zealanders with more accessible information about natural resources. It is a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils, the Cawthron Institute, and the Ministry for the Environment, and has been supported by the Tindall Foundation.
  • The LAWA website displays data on the health of our rivers and lakes, water quality at bathing beaches, real-time river flows, rainfall and groundwater data, and air quality.
  • Work on other environmental indicators for LAWA is ongoing and next year the website will show information on groundwater quality. The ‘Can I swim here?’ topic will also be enhanced to provide more information on suitable places for swimming.

LAWA contacts:

  • LAWA Project Manager - Abi Loughnan, 02747 00 444, abi.loughnan@orc.govt.nz
  • LAWA general - Stephen Woodhead, LAWA Chair, 0272801635
  • LAWA science - Dr Roger Young, Freshwater Group Manager, The Cawthron Institute, 021 036 4067