Fresh approach to learning about our waterways

Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has launched a new website so everyone can learn more about their local waterways.

“Good information is key to good decision making and this new website is a great tool to help communities understand what’s happening in their rivers and get more involved in caring for them,” says Cawthron Institute freshwater scientist Roger Young.

Environmental information from New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils is shared on the LAWA website, providing a comprehensive collection of material in a central location. The collaborative effort involves the councils, the Ministry for the Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University, with support from the Tindall Foundation.

The long-term project is focusing firstly on rivers, with state and trend data displayed for more than 1100 freshwater monitoring sites. The next modules will be on water quantity and coastal water quality.

Fran Wilde, chair of the Regional Council Sector Group, says that fresh water is a highly valued resource, and the website will enable New Zealanders to make good choices about using and enjoying our waterways.

“Never before has there been such a focus on the state of New Zealand’s freshwater,” she says. “Freshwater is a vital asset to our country and it’s 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.”

The website is an excellent resource for organisations and communities throughout the nation that are working to maintain and improve our rivers, says Dr Young. The website is also for people to share information about what’s happening in their local waterways, by posting news, reporting on pollution or promoting clean-up or riparian planting days.

“This is more than just a place to present data,” Dr Young says. “It’s for people to use, enjoy and contribute to. We’d love people to share their own stories about their local waterways on the site,” Dr Young says.

Cawthron scientists have provided website development and content advice for the website, along with expertise to validate the way the data is collected, processed and analysed.

“We’re excited to partner with regional councils and the Ministry in what we see as a truly innovative project bringing complex science into an easily accessible and understandable format,” says Professor Charles Eason, Cawthron Institute Chief Executive.

“Many people can so often be put off by overly complex scientific information but we believe LAWA has simplified the science and allows everyone to connect with what’s going on in their river. This is a fantastic initiative for New Zealanders and we applaud all those involved.”

Find the website at http://www.lawa.org.nz

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