In a significant step towards protecting endangered fresh water fish, AquaWatch has partnered with the Endangered Species Foundation to support their new project "Drains are Streams".
AquaWatch has generously donated two refurbished waka for baseline measurements, and this collaboration will enable the monitoring of our waterways through world leading reporting tools.
"Our deepest thanks and gratitude go to AquaWatch for supplying two of these waka monitoring tools for our new community project Drains are Streams,” says Natalie Jessup, GM of the Endangered Species Foundation.
“Together with the latest scientific tools and the generational strengths and insights that hāpori, kaitiaki experts and mātauranga Māori bring to the table, we can restore waterways and native areas for our endangered freshwater fish."
"Drains are Streams" aims to restore urban waterways and provide safe habitats for New Zealand's most endangered freshwater fish. It seeks to address the significant issue of waste and pollution entering our rivers and streams through drains. This initiative is in a pilot phase and will be developed in Waikato in collaboration with mana whenua to reconnect hāpori (communities) with waterways and encourage people to "adopt a drain" to restore and create better habitats for freshwater species.
Over three quarters of New Zealand's native freshwater fish species are threatened with or at risk of extinction. Many of these species, including mudfish and whitebait, face critical endangerment.
AquaWatch's cutting-edge technology, embodied in a watercraft known as "waka," constantly monitors and reports the quality of waterways. Equipped with industry-leading software and five sensors measuring temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and conductivity, this technology offers real-time insights into the ecological health, environmental thresholds, and mahinga kai values of water bodies. The hardware is designed to be affordable, easy to deploy and maintain, and collects data that is uploaded through satellite technology and delivered straight to computers or phones.
This technology is faster, more cost-effective, and provides a more accurate assessment of water quality, making it invaluable for managing and improving water at scale and sharing that information with the communities who interact with these awa.
Abi Croutear-Foy, Chief Growth Officer at AquaWatch, emphasises their commitment to community resourcing and development:
“This partnership with the Endangered Species Foundation exemplifies our commitment to empowering communities to reconnect with their local waterways and really make a difference to restoring the health of our awa,” says Abi.
Abi Croutear-Foy, with technology developed by the company, which she says can measure the health of waterways much faster and less expensively than doing it manually.
Together, with the latest monitoring tools and the wisdom of mātauranga Māori, we can ensure a thriving future for our water ecosystems and the endangered species that call them home.
Ultimately, the "Drains are Streams" project aspires to increase engagement with te taiao (our environment), connect and develop the project in a meaningful way with tangata whenua and kaitiaki already active in this space, enhance knowledge of mātauranga Māori, educate people on how to care for drains and streams, and save endangered species from extinction by monitoring and establishing healthy awa habitats.
You can find out more and financially support this project to run its first pilot project here: https://www.endangeredspecies.org.nz/donate-drains-are-streams
Photo of boy and drain thanks to Wai Wanaka