Clearing perceptions of Te Waikoropupū Springs

Monitoring by Tasman District Council (TDC) shows that water at the internationally renowned Te Waikoropupū Springs in Golden Bay is even clearer than previously thought.

MR Niwa equipment on the cable installed over the main Springs Te Waikoropupu Springs

Using Envirolink grants(external link), the Council commissioned two reports in response to community perceptions that the iconic Springs – known for their remarkable clear, blue water – were becoming cloudy.

The clarity of the water had not been scientifically measured since 1995 and – as guardians of this unique environmental treasure – Tasman District Council was keen to check on its quality in order to alleviate community concerns. In 2016, using an Envirolink small advice grant(external link), they commissioned freshwater experts NIWA to assess current monitoring methods and provide guidance (external link)on how to best monitor the Springs.

A number of recommendations were made and trials were carried out based on the guidance. In 2018, an Envirolink medium advice grant(external link) was used to implement many of the initial recommendations in a three-month monitoring programme – with astonishing results(external link).

“We were delighted and relieved that the monitoring showed the clarity of the Springs was even better than it was when last scientifically measured in the mid-1990s,” says TDC Senior Resource Scientist Joseph Thomas.

“By seeking specialist advice from NIWA, we were able to address the mis-perceptions in the community – putting the matter to bed.”

Joseph says Council staff worked collaboratively with NIWA to carry out the monitoring, with NIWA supplying highly specialist equipment and expertise, and TDC supporting with such things as community liaison, access and maintenance.

“It was a real win-win for the Council. NIWA’s expertise and equipment was invaluable and, with our team supporting them, we were able to make our money go a lot further.

“We’re so happy with the outcomes and now know we have the equipment and techniques to repeat the testing as part of the Council’s long-term plan.”

As well as allaying community concerns, the monitoring programme has provided TDC with valuable data that can be used when making important environmental decisions. For example, in 2019 information was supplied to a committee sitting on hearings for a Te Waikoropupū Springs Water Conservation Order Application.

MR The main vent of the Te Waikoropupu Springs incredible view of the bubbling sands the capping layers over the spring and the underwater plants.

Captions: Top: NIWA monitoring equipment on a cable installed over the main Te Waikoropupū spring. Bottom: The main vent of Te Waikoropupū Springs, an incredible view showing bubbling sands, the capping layers over the spring and underwater plants.

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