Groundwater Assimilative Capacity: the key to improved freshwater quality

Part of the ESR led, MBIE funded CONC-20591-WATER-ESR programme.

The  research aims to identify the assimilative capacity of New Zealand groundwater for nitrogen and microbes, with exploratory work on phosphorus. It will demonstrate how this new knowledge can be embodied in tools that empower decision-makers to develop policy to best manage land and water resources. The assimilative capacity defines the contaminant load that can be allowed from land use change or intensification without violating desired thresholds, such as drinking water standards or ecological limits of groundwater-fed surface waters. The newly gained understanding of groundwater flow paths and contaminant transformation processes underpins the knowledge transfer and integration at the catchment and aquifer scale and permits the development of tools that integrate cumulative effects of contaminants. This knowledge is essential to ensure the optimum balance between economic development, through intensification of land use, and maintenance of ground and surface water quality is achieved.

Contact person: Greg Barkle

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