Recently, in collaboration with New Zealand National Fieldays Society, AquaWatch deployed our first waka in the Waikato River alongside the Mystery Creek Events Centre site to monitor water quality in this area.
The deployment took place from the Mystery Creek jetty at the same time as water samples were being taken for eDNA testing by Wilderlab NZ Ltd, with representatives from the Environmental Protection Authority NZ, and NZ Landcare Trust there on the day to support the initiative.
Since then, the one AquaWatch Waka deployed in the Waikato River near Mystery Creek, has monitored the water quality there more times in one day than that site has been monitored over the past nine years.
During nine years from 2013-2021, there were just 96 “grab” samples taken that give only a snapshot of the river and do not provide reliable, ongoing insight into changes in water quality. Over 24 days the AquaWatch Waka analysed the water in-stream 2453 times, or 100 times a day across five different measurements. These were pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen levels.
“It really is like having a continuous video of the river’s water quality, compared to taking a picture 10 times a year,” says AquaWatch Solutions CEO Peter Fullerton-Smith.
What does the waka show us when it rains? In May of 2023 we saw a lot of rainfall as this chart shows:
These constant measurements show us clearly how quickly the water flushes and is recharged.
We wouldn't be able to see this unless we were always looking.
AquaWatch Solutions has seen strong interest in its water measurment tools, from farm catchment groups looking to establish a baseline for their catchment's health. The next stage is to include a HealthScore feature in the app, supported by Amazon Web Services, to provide users with an indication of overall water body quality health.
The instrument's data is transmitted through a nearby transmitter. This tool has various industry applications, including agriculture, offering a cost-effective alternative to expensive European instruments or random water sample grabs for lab analysis.