Dr Daniel Collins is a hydrologist at NIWA. He formed the Waiology blog to bring together commentary on New Zealand's freshwater systems. The blog features commentary from numerous contributors.

The role of science and science communication in setting environmental limits - Waiology

Mar 11, 2013

By Ned Norton and Helen Rouse In water resource management under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS) (2011), limit setting refers to the process of defining the amount of the resource that is available for use (in terms of both quantity and quality) while still meeting defined freshwater environment outcomes. A collaborative approach to setting limits for managing water resources has been promulgated in the Land and Water Forum reports and is being attempted in some parts of the country, including in Canterbury where the collaborative approach is also a feature of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. The collaborative approach to limit setting requires that scientists provide information on the future consequences of limit options for environmental, cultural, social and economic values, so that informed community debate can occur and decisions on limits can … Read More

Government releases freshwater reform proposals - Waiology

Mar 09, 2013

By Daniel Collins On Saturday the Government released its freshwater management reform proposal – Freshwater reform 2012 and beyond. The report proposes a massive suite of reforms, stemming from work initiated in 2009 with the Government’s ‘Fresh Start for Freshwater’, and based on recommendations from the Land and Water Forum, and consultation with stakeholders and the Iwi Leaders Forum. “The freshwater reform package presented in this paper is based on and consistent with the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations. The Forum’s core proposals (collaborative planning and the national objectives framework) will be progressed immediately, while others will be integrated in the Government’s direction and guidance in the next few years, or will be developed as part of the Government’s longer term programme of reforms.” Reforms are grouped into three areas: (1) planning as a community, (2) … Read More

The Department of Conservation’s role in water governance - Waiology

Mar 08, 2013

By Rosemary Miller The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) vision is to foster a healthy, functioning environment today and for future generations. This includes New Zealand freshwaters. So where does DOC fit into the overall picture of water governance in New Zealand? Firstly, DOC has specific freshwater functions as set out in the Conservation Act Legislation: To preserve so far as is practicable all indigenous freshwater fisheries, and protect recreational freshwater fisheries and freshwater fish habitats (6ab); To advocate the conservation of aquatic life and freshwater fisheries generally S53(3); and Various sections relating to recreational fish responsibilities. In addition, the Department’s Statement of Intent sets out several goals: To conserve a full range of New Zealand’s ecosystems to a healthy functioning state; To conserve nationally threatened species to ensure persistence; To maintain or restore as partnerships locally … Read More

Water governance – we’re getting into overdraft - Waiology

Mar 06, 2013

By Andrew Fenemor Like the challenge of balancing the household budget, we NZers are finding that despite being a ‘pluvial country’ we’re reaching allocation limits in many of our catchments. Looking back, 100+ years ago exploitation of water resources focused firstly on rivers. Then water use especially for irrigation and urban supplies moved to groundwater takes. Now as pumping from our aquifers starts to deplete river flows and aquifer storage too much, we are seeing greater interest in water storage. Case in point, the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund is supporting feasibility assessments for large schemes in Canterbury, Otago, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Tasman, most involving new dams. The trouble is, it’s a tough job for regional councils to set catchment limits in their regional plans (PDF) before the symptoms of excess appear. That’s not surprising, given the … Read More

Personal reflections on the Land and Water Forum - Waiology

Mar 04, 2013

By Hugh Canard I was asked to contribute to Waiology’s series on water governance, and after a very brief struggle with my inertial guidance system, I thought my contribution should be from the inside of the governance tent looking out. I have been variously engaged in the early stages of the development through to the implementation phases of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and I have been a member of the small group of the Land & Water Forum. I was selected as a representative of water-based recreation, not for any real or perceived level of expertise in science or engineering. The Land & Water Forum was a bottom-up response to a rapidly deteriorating state of many of New Zealand’s waterways and failed attempts to address the wider legislative issues. Agricultural intensification and a widespread … Read More

Water governance in New Zealand: An introduction - Waiology

Mar 01, 2013

By Daniel Collins “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” So goes the saying, often dubiously attributed to Mark Twain, when talking about water politics in the western US. And while New Zealanders are fortunate to have a much wetter climate (and tend to prefer beer or wine), we are no strangers to fights over water. We see these tensions time and time again in the news. Fishing vs. irrigation in Canterbury. Greens vs. dams in Hawkes Bay. Residents vs. Auckland Council over rates. The Maori Council vs. the Government over ownership. As a nation, we have diverse and, at times, conflicting values when it comes to water. To help resolve these tensions we turn to some form of governing body or another. Whether it is the central government, a regional … Read More

Unintended effect of DCD on dairy farms: Nitrification blocked in downstream freshwater ecosystems - Waiology

Feb 28, 2013

By Marc Schallenberg Figure 1. Sign indicating use of dicyandiamide (DCD) on a farm. DCD is a fertiliser additive used to block natural microbial denitrification in the soil, reducing nitrate pollution from dairy farms. Eco-N is the trade name for a product containing DCD.In many ways, the nitrification inhibitor DCD (dicyandiamide), described previously by Dr Bob Wilcock of NIWA, seems like the proverbial “silver bullet”. In some situations it reduces nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions from dairy farms – two serious environmental issues resulting from the New Zealand dairy boom of the last 15-20 years. It has a low toxicity and breaks down relatively quickly (weeks to months) in the environment. No wonder it was increasingly being promoted for use on dairy pastures. But to an environmental scientist like myself, the increasing use of DCD in … Read More

Wetlands series wrap-up - Waiology

Feb 08, 2013

By Daniel Collins Over the past two weeks we’ve had seven articles on wetlands from across New Zealand’s research and management communities. The occasion was World Wetlands Day on February 2. The articles provided a great cross-section of analysis on how we perceive, preserve and study wetlands. Here is a summary: Catherine Knight, from Massey University, started the series with an historical account of wetlands in New Zealand and changes in perceptions, language and landscapes. Philip Grove, from Canterbury Regional Council, shared results of a study of Canterbury’s coastal wetlands – their composition, state, and pressures. Shonagh Lindsay, from the National Wetland Trust, described the National Wetland Trust’s project taking shape around Lake Serpentine – the Trust’s new centre, educational facilities, and restoration efforts. Dave Campbell, from University of Waikato, described research on the carbon … Read More

Progress in restoring wetlands in New Zealand - Waiology

Feb 07, 2013

By Bev Clarkson The wetland restoration handbook is available free online at http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/services/biocons/wetlands/.New Zealand wetlands sustain indigenous biota, improve water quality, abate floods, lock up carbon, and provide cultural, recreational, and educational resources. Despite their multiple values, more than 90% of pre-settlement wetlands have been lost. Remaining wetlands are under increasing pressure through too little water, too much nutrient, and too many weeds and pests, and many require urgent action to prevent further loss and degradation. Landcare Research and its research partners NIWA, DOC, University of Waikato, and Waikato Raupatu River Trust have worked to deliver scientifically based guidelines, techniques, and tools to improve the management and guide the restoration of wetlands. These improve the likelihood of success in repairing complex physical–biological processes, and thus reduce the risk of wasted time or resources. Read More

Ramsar wetlands in NZ: Why are they important and where are we going? - Waiology

Feb 05, 2013

By Hugh Robertson The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is a global environmental treaty that “provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources”. The Ramsar Convention was established in 1971, in the city of Ramsar, Iran. Awarua wetland Ramsar site, Southland. Source: DOC.New Zealand became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention in 1976, in the initial cohort of members. Nowadays, there are 164 countries committed to the Ramsar Convention – a truly international community. A key focus of the convention is to designate Ramsar sites – wetlands of international importance, and more generally to improve the management of all wetland systems. Globally, there are over 2000 Ramsar wetlands, covering 204,700,000 hectares. The same year NZ signed the convention, our first wetland became listed as … Read More