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Science career holds water

Science career holds water

Landcare Research scientist Andrew Fenemor has been honoured for his achievements in 30 years as a hydrologist - years in which water management practices have changed greatly.

Mr Fenemor has been awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from the New Zealand Hydrological Society. The Society furthers the understanding and management of water resources, and includes among its more than 500 members scientists, consultants, engineers, teachers and resource managers. The award is the Society's most prestigious, and is not given every year. It recognises Mr Fenemor's expertise in his specialist areas of groundwater, catchment hydrology and integrated catchment management.

Mr Fenemor says he's delighted with the award, which came as a complete surprise. In accepting it, he acknowledged the supportive teams he has worked with across New Zealand. Andrew says his career has been extremely rewarding, and he has seen huge shifts in how water is regarded in this country since starting with the Nelson Catchment Board in the early 1970s.

"Back then water was regarded as plentiful and attention was just starting to shift from flood control to understanding availability of water for allocation, especially from our aquifers. Water allocation has now become a huge issue worldwide.

"The last 10 to 15 years have seen an increased focus on the environmental aspects of water, stopping the deterioration of New Zealand's water quality, and sharing our water resources fairly. This requires a good scientific understanding of how land and water use affects availability and quality, and more of a focus on systems, rather than looking at rivers and aquifers in isolation from the land and people using them." Mr Fenemor says overseas research trends on "virtual water" indicate what is looming for New Zealand.

"Just as for food miles, virtual water refers to the water required to produce goods and services. Consumer groups are asking what it takes to produce a litre of milk, a kilo of wheat, and so forth; and whether the water has been managed properly or not in producing it.

'New Zealand's exporters could benefit if we can show we are using our water efficiently and protecting our aquatic environments as well."

Mr Fenemor has contributed to sustainable integrated catchment management (ICM) in New Zealand and internationally. He joined Landcare Research in 2002 to lead the ICM programme, researching tools, models and processes for catchment management, based around the Motueka River catchment. Recently he organised a Pacific UNESCO HELP* and ICM workshop in Nelson.

He is a member of a panel that reviewed Australia's research on irrigation futures, and was part of a project team that developed the "Travelling River" public exhibition, which coupled hydrological science with social histories of the Motueka catchment. His current hydrology interests centre on improving New Zealand's water allocation and reallocation systems, water storage, and how science and community knowledge can be blended for effective environmental management.

Mr Fenemor's award citation from the New Zealand Hydrological Society includes further biographical details, and is attached.


New Zealand Hydrological Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award

Citation - Andrew Fenemor

Andrew Fenemor has made significant contributions to New Zealand and international hydrology in his 30-year hydrological career. The New Zealand Hydrological Society wishes to recognise Andrew’s achievements by conferring its highest award, the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Andrew is a long standing and most supportive member of the New Zealand Hydrological Society. He is also a member of the New Zealand Association of Resource Management and the United States National Ground Water Association. He was President of the New Zealand Hydrological Society from 1996 to 2000.

Andrew has university qualifications in agricultural engineering from the University of Canterbury and Ohio State University, and in business from Massey University. He began his career as a Water Resources Officer with the Nelson Catchment Board in 1976, and went on to work with the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Drainage Research unit in the late 1970s. On his return to New Zealand in the early 1980s he worked as a groundwater scientist with the Hydrology Centre in Christchurch, developing the first groundwater flow model of Nelson’s Waimea Plains. He returned to Nelson in 1985, as an analyst and resource manager with local government.

While working in local government, Andrew was part of the team that drafted and managed the consultation process leading to adoption and implementation of the Waimea Catchment Water Management Plan, the Motueka-Riwaka Plains Water Management Plan and Moutere Water Management Plan. Andrew was the technical leader and negotiator for Tasman District Council on the Motueka River Water Conservation Order and Buller River Water Conservation Order, and represented the Council in the challenge of the Order to the High Court.

He drafted the Tasman District Council’s first strategy for monitoring the state of the environment, and co-ordinated its state of environment reports “Environment Today” and “Environment Today – Tasman 2000”, which won a New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants prize for environmental reporting. He also led the Mapua contaminated site remediation and led projects to resolve water resource over-allocation.

Andrew joined Landcare Research in 2002 to lead the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) research programme focused on the Motueka catchment. More recently he organised a Pacific UNESCO / WMO “Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy” (HELP) and ICM workshop in Nelson and is a member of the international steering committee organising the 2007 HELP symposium in South Africa. He was also a member of a panel that reviewed Australia’s CRC for irrigation futures. Andrew was part of the project team that developed the “Travelling River” public exhibition which included hydrological science with a social history of the Motueka River. Another project he initiated with Landcare Research was the development of a decision-support tool that calculates water yield from land cover.

Andrew’s professional specialties include groundwater, catchment flow and contaminant transport processes across the land-water / coastal continuum, and application of science and community knowledge in effective natural resource management. Most significantly, he has made contributions in the leadership of sustainable integrated catchment management, in New Zealand and internationally.

Andrew has practiced integrated water resources management in leading water studies, setting up and reporting to stakeholder committees, liason with consultants, contractors, owners of hydropower sites and water users, and reported successful options and results to public meetings.

Andrew has received a number of study awards in his career, including a Local Government Study Award to research contaminated sites and tradable water rights in North America, and he has presented papers and courses at a number of international conferences and meetings.

Andrew has produced numerous publications, reports and book chapters, on topics such as groundwater management, significant floods and droughts, water resource management, tradable water permits, integrated catchment management and contaminated sites management.

Andrew’s achievements have been characterised by his outstanding personal attributes, such as his integrity and leadership qualities.

It is with great pleasure and pride that the New Zealand Hydrological Society recognises Andrew’s professional achievements and personal attributes in his 30 years, to date, as a research and practicing hydrologist by awarding him the Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

Congratulations Andrew!


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