Constant access to clean water has always been one of the hallmarks of an advanced society – and New Zealand is now aiming to raise the bar in its efforts to secure clean water for everyone. The ways we use water, and how we interact with our waterways, have been put in the spotlight by the New Zealand Government. New legislation is gradually coming into force that means we need to think about how we measure and monitor this precious resource.
Read the new freshwater rules and regulation
The new rules ask more of our farmers and councils – they’ll need to take action to reduce nitrates in our water and measure water use. Reporting will become mandatory, which means innovative solutions are required in some of Aotearoa’s most remote locations.
Reducing nitrates in our waterways
Nitrates are a problem in our waterways because they damage ecosystems and endanger human health. They end up in our water in part due to farming practices, which has led to the new regulations on freshwater, winter grazing, water use reporting and nitrogen use reporting for dairy farms.
Transitioning to a lower-nitrogen future is a serious challenge for our farmers, but luckily the Internet of Things has some solutions to offer.
By using sensors which feed information back to an app, it’s possible to monitor and measure water from minute to minute. IoT devices can measure nitrogen levels, sediment, dissolved oxygen, salinity and water temperature. This allows farmers to fulfil their reporting obligations, as well as providing insights into the interaction between their practices and nitrogen levels. Over time, this should lead to lower nitrate levels in our water.
Find out how Adroit sensors are helping clean up Kiwi waterways
Aquaculture also faces higher compliance costs
Our thriving aquaculture industry also relies on clean water, and it too has been met with new legislation that aims to reduce the environmental impact of its activities.
Read the National Environmental Standards for Marine Aquaculture
Measuring and monitoring freshwater and ocean water not only helps our aquaculture industry to comply with regulations, it also ensures fantastic, sustainably farmed products. For example, mussels can only be harvested when ocean salinity is within specific limits set by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Inaccurate salinity measurements can mean days of harvesting are lost. Now, data buoys can measure salinity and transmit that information to an app, so the data can be accessed from anywhere. Spark has used this technology with local company Westpac Mussels, creating a scalable and affordable solution that has reduced their lost harvest days and boosted profitability.
Find out more about Westpac Mussels’ IoT water monitoring
Managing water resources
Hopefully in the future, councils won’t need to send inspectors out to look at each household’s water meter – that information could be delivered digitally each month with a connected water meter. And in the same way that power meters now allow you to see exactly where your energy bill is being spent via an app, you might one day soon be able to do the same with your water use.
Improved monitoring will lift standards on a regional scale as well as a household one. With connected water meters measuring an increasing amount of our infrastructure, councils should be able to identify leaks more easily and find them faster. Research by Water New Zealand in 2020 found that Auckland’s drinking water pipes leaked at least 50 million litres each day, adding that the city had one of the lower rates of loss in the country. Fewer leaks would mean less severe water shortages and far less wasted water.
In addition to reducing leaks, smart water monitoring can keep our drinking water safe. Traditionally, testing our water was done in a lab, which is time-consuming and expensive. Sensors make it far more efficient, so problems can be spotted sooner and rectified more rapidly. This has the potential to make our drinker water more reliably safe and reduce levels of nitrates and other contaminants.
We can connect every corner of New Zealand
Even in the most remote areas of Aotearoa, we have the technology to be able to connect water sensors that feed up-to-date information back to a dashboard on your device. Talk to our team and find out how we can tailor IoT solutions so you can easily comply with regulations, measure and monitor water, and manage this valuable resource more effectively.