Groundwater management

Forty percent of people in New Zealand rely on groundwater for their drinking water, yet that water is vulnerable to contamination. ESR's groundwater research team is recognised as a leader in the field, both domestically and internationally.

Groundwater quality and management

Through an in-depth, research driven understanding of groundwater contamination processes, our team of groundwater scientists help clients to identify and address issues associated with land use intensification and its effects on groundwater quality. We also design tools for water managers to enable them to assess, predict and minimise the impacts of land use, and land use changes, on groundwater quality.

Research snapshot

  • Our groundwater scientists are working with Rūnanga o Ngāi te Rangi and Ngā Hapū o Matakana me Rangiwaea as part of ESR's He Wai Māpuna programme. They're developing a wai programme for Matakana whānau that will include groundwater visualisations and groundwater monitoring on Matakana Island.
  • We're busy establishing a groundwater health index focused on the presence of macroinvertebrates in groundwater and microbial diversity.
  • We have active involvement with regional and district councils throughout New Zealand, providing advice, exchange of hydrogeological data, and undertaking research and case studies of concern and importance to councils. A recent request from all the councils was to develop a tool to assess the risk of microbial contamination to drinking water supply wells from a range of land uses. This was funded from an Envirolink Tools grant and was carried out jointly with GNS Science.
  • We're contributing knowledge and design concepts for future public health programmes with and for countries in the Pacific region (from policy to practice). The goal is to empower them to achieve their goals for cleaner, safer drinking water and sanitation.
  • We have co-ordinated national survey of pesticides in groundwater every 4 years since 1990 for the regional councils. The last two surveys have included a suite of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs).

Groundwater scientists working together 

ESR, along with groundwater scientists at GNS Science(external link), Aqualinc(external link) and Lincoln Agritech(external link) also work together, building on each other’s strengths, to improve the understanding and quality of groundwater research. This is called the Groundwater Science and Research Alliance Aotearoa.