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Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality

18 March 2014

Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality

The local government sector is leading the way to provide New Zealanders with up to date information about fresh water, with the launch of a new website that makes water quality data public.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz was created by 16 regional and unitary councils that are Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) members, together with the Ministry for Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University with support of the Tindall Foundation.

LAWA provides a rich source of data from more than 1100 freshwater sites local government monitors to give the public easy access to water quality monitoring information. It allows users to see levels of bacteria, acidity, water clarity and other parameters in rivers and catchments.

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says that LAWA being creates a single point of data for validated New Zealand water quality information for the first time.

“This shows how local government is leading the way in improving access to up-to-date, accurate fresh water information for communities and industry,” Mr Yule says.

Regional councils measure a range of parameters when assessing water quality including nitrogen, phosphorous and bacteria. In creating LAWA, local government had its data collection and processing methods validated by Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, and the Ministry for Environment.

LAWA provides national information, regional information and fact sheets about water quality. LGNZ Regional Sector Chair Fran Wilde says the website can be used to share news, report pollution or promote river-related events such as clean-up days or riparian plantings.

“Freshwater is a vital asset to our country and it is important that the public can see and understand for themselves the state of a particular river or catchment and how it may be affected by what’s going on around it,” Ms Wilde says.

The next stage of LAWA’s development will include publishing water quantity and coastal water quality online.

ENDS

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