More than one way to test region’s water quality

Otago Regional Council environmental officer Mike Anderson floats a boogie board loaded with data...
Otago Regional Council environmental officer Mike Anderson floats a boogie board loaded with data-sensing equipment in Luggate Creek.PHOTOS: SIMON HENDERSON
Wading into water is all in a day’s work for the Otago Regional Council’s environmental monitoring team. Fresh water information is essential for the region, and both low and high water levels affect many water users.  Simon Henderson met environmental officers Mike Anderson and Jono Young to get the drop on water science.

Boogie boards are not immediately obvious as a tool for science, but in the hands of environmental officer Jono Young the popular plaything turns into a mini floating research craft.

His task, on behalf of the Otago Regional Council, is to conduct regular tests at more than 60 sites across the region.

On Thursday, this meant setting out to Luggate Creek alongside fellow environmental officer Mike Anderson to collect data on the water level and flow.

The boogie board was floated across the creek while an acoustic doppler system used a frequency to bounce off the creek bed and back to provide water depth.

The system also measured velocity or flow rate of the water, and had a global positioning system to record the location of the data.

"We are taking a minimum of 12 minutes of data with this instrument, so it gives us an average of this time period."

By measuring water depth and correlating that to water flow they were able to understand the amount of water discharge.

Otago Regional Council environmental officer Jono Young monitors data capture while Mike Anderson...
Otago Regional Council environmental officer Jono Young monitors data capture while Mike Anderson wades into Luggate Creek.
The Luggate Creek site also recorded water temperature.

The site was part of the state of environment network that collected data including water temperature, rain, ground water and air quality.

The sites were visited at least once a month, but after flood and high water events they tried to revisit all sites in the network.

Data captured includes water depth and speed and it is linked to GPS for accurate location...
Data captured includes water depth and speed and it is linked to GPS for accurate location information.
"If there has been an event like there has been just recently we try to visit them pretty soon after to see if there is any damage, debris caught round them, or if the reading is inaccurate," Mr Young said.

The information was shared on the Lawa Land, Air Water, Aotearoa website, providing information for all water users.

Regional council spokesman Ryan Tippet spokesman said the water was regularly tested for bacteria that could make people sick, causing skin or eye irritation or upset stomachs.

Otago generally has good water quality, but even sites with good water quality can be affected by heavy rainfall that washes contaminants off the land and into the water.

He recommended people stay out of the water for at least two days after heavy or prolonged rain or if the water was murky and you couldn’t see your toes when standing calf deep.

 

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