Water quality to be available online

A new website will provide water users with information about the health of New Zealand's waterways.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website brings together water quality data from the country's 12 regional and four unitary councils.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the website allowed users to compare the health of waterways throughout the country.

''You can compare [a particular river or lake] with the rest of the region, the rest of the catchment and the rest of the country,'' he said.

It provided a huge information resource which could be useful to schools, researchers and recreational water users and was not readily available in the past.

''We had all the data and it was publicly available, but it wasn't readily accessible,'' he said.

The website was the result of more than two years' work and, as well as regional authorities, involved the Ministry for the Environment, the Cawthron Institute and Massey University.

Long term, it was hoped air quality, natural hazard and land data would also become available on the site. However, there was no time frame for that to take place.

Council water quality scientist Rachel Ozanne said data from all of Otago's more than 60 water monitoring sites was available on the website.

''The website can tell you whether that particular [monitoring] site is suitable for picnics, for fishing, for dogs or whatever and it tells you whether it's publicly accessible,'' she said.

While it did not provide real-time data, it gave a ''pretty good picture of the general state'' of waterways, she said.

You can visit the website at http://lawa.org.nz

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