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Water Shortages – New National Centre To Help

Media release: 22 May 2002

Have we got enough fresh water? The answer is “maybe”, but certainly not all in the right places, nor of the right quality. A new national centre has just been established to help manage New Zealand’s water resources.

Inflows into the southern hydro lakes are already below average for this time of the year, and the average rainfall that is expected this year will not make up the existing shortfall, despite the likelihood that an El Nino will develop by spring.
“The prospect of us getting through another winter without electricity shortages is not great”, according to National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) hydro-climatologist Charles Pearson.

Much attention has also been focused on the shortage of water in Auckland and on the quality of the Waikato River water being piped to Auckland to help make up the deficit.

“These are just two examples of the complex issues facing New Zealand and our water resources”, says NIWA’s Deputy Chief Executive (Strategic Development) Dr Rick Pridmore, “so NIWA has established the National Centre for Water Resources to help address these issues.”

The Centre will improve collaboration between government agencies, regional and district councils, iwi, industry, and science organisations.
“The key role of the Centre is to communicate”, says Dr Pridmore, “to improve collaboration and cooperation between different organisations.”

One of the first initiatives is a newsletter which gives seasonal information on water resources – both quantity and quality. The newsletter maps river flows, water clarity, and water temperatures. Other information includes groundwater levels from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and an assessment of the likely effects of El Nino.

“NIWA hopes to move beyond reporting environmental quality towards predicting it,” says Ministry for the Environment Acting Chief Executive Lindsay Gow in the first issue of the newsletter, Water Resources Update, which was published today.

The web pages for the National Centre for Water Resources are at

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