June — August 2017
Part of our mandate is to engage with all people across Aotearoa New Zealand. We are developing new technology in the form of drone devices and the River Watch water testing sensor which is free-floating. It recently won the 2016 WWF Conservation Innovation Award and is a finalist in the Wellington Gold Awards (6 July 2017).
The device is WiFi-enabled for extracting data and sending it to an application on a mobile phone or computer. It can continually measure up to seven water quality parameters over 5–10 days (depending on solar panel) The device currently measures pH level, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and temperature. We aim to add a sensor for nitrates and are working with ESR to add a spectrometer for E. Coli pathogens.
The unique things about this sensor is that it can be left in the water to take continuous readings and the data can be collected without retrieving the sensor. It is also a much cheaper price than anything similar on the world-wide market. We believe that it is user friendly and extremely innovative. It will allow for the advancement of Citizen Science across Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.
The economic impact for the River Watch water sensor will be significant as it will provide an entry point for many stakeholder groups and freshwater users to collect robust and meaningful water quality data. The River Watch will enable sound long term management decisions and processes to be implemented. The current cost of data collection or water sensor probes prohibits wide scale implementation.
Freshwater environment restoration has been identified as the number one priority by the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Once there is a baseline of data to work from, restoration projects will become more prevalent and start to offer employment opportunities outside of the main urban areas. This will help to establish sustainable rural employment and community growth in areas that have recently faced decline.
WAI NZ are currently working with ESR, Landcorp, Fish & Game, NIWA, Landcare Research, Forest & Bird, Fab Lab, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council and local iwi to develop and beta test the second version of the River Watch. WAI NZ are about to launch a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to get the River Watch to production — so we can find out what is really going on in our waterways.