The water resources of the Waipara catchment and their management
Thesis DisciplineEnvironmental Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The Waipara catchment, North Canterbury, New Zealand is currently experiencing rapid intensification in land use from pastoral farming to viticultural, horticultural and lifestyle activities. This intensification has lead to escalating demand for water which has created challenges for the Waipara community and the water managers. Sustainable and effective management requires both a thorough understanding of the physical environment and consideration of the needs of society. This study has been undertaken to assist management by quantifying the water resources, determining current water use and identifying the key issues facing management. Limited precipitation and high evapo-transpiration rates dominate the area's water resources resulting in very limited runoff and significant soil moisture deficits over the summer months. The surface water resources of the area are over allocated with potential abstraction rates far exceeding normal summer flows. The last five years has seen the rapid development of groundwater as landowners look for alternative irrigation supplies. The groundwater resources are very complicated and highly variable consisting of small discrete buried river channels. Recharge rates are very low which questions the long term sustainability of groundwater resource. There is a need to move towards integrated catchment management where science and the community work together to create workable and appropriate solutions. The Waipara community are already highly active in water management. Similarly, recent science has improved understanding of the resources. Water managers need to cease the opportunity and begin the process of developing a holistic catchment management plan.