Water quality maps for Sustainable Seas

MetOcean Solutions, the Cawthron Institute and NIWA join forces in a project to map and forecast water quality. The project, which is funded as part of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge, aims to use oceanographic forecasting to produce forecast charts of expected water quality levels in Tasman and Golden bays, New Zealand. 
 
"The idea is to create forecast charts and site specific forecasts that councils, boaties and marine farmers can check, similar to a weather map," explains MetOcean Solutions Project Director Dr Brett Beamsley. "It will show the expected distribution patterns of river plumes formed after heavy rainfall, highlighting their paths once they enter the coastal marine area and become influenced by coastal circulation caused by wind and tides."
 
Rivers often carry contaminants such as sediments and faecal coliforms and the tool will include information about the predicted risk of bacterial contamination in the coastal receiving environment. "The maps will provide helpful information for stakeholders interested in coastal water quality, such as councils tasked with managing beach closures and the shellfish aquaculture industry who cannot harvest until the water quality is sufficiently good," says Dr Beamsley. 
 
Currently, water quality in the bays is estimated through the monitoring of river flow rates only. It is hoped that the research will provide higher resolution data on the exact flow patterns of river plumes in the coastal environment, thus allowing more accurate and responsive management of activities sensitive to water quality.  
 
The project is one of the eight scientific research projects that have recently received funding as part of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge. The challenge aims to enhance the use of New Zealand's vast marine resources, while ensuring the environment is used wisely for future sustainability. 
 
For further information on the water quality mapping project, see http://www.cawthron.org.nz/coastal-freshwater/news/2016/weather-maps-water/

The water quality maps will help shellfish farmers establish when water quality is good enough to harvest stock.

The water quality maps will help shellfish farmers establish when water quality is good enough to harvest stock.