Kounga wai me te patuerotanga
Water quality & sanitation
ESR provides scientific advice and expertise on the management of drinking water, groundwater, recreational water and wastewater.
Aotearoa's drinking water, groundwater, recreational water and wastewater can all be affected by pathogens and contaminants. ESR’s water scientists help to detect and manage the risks, and they provide advice and guidance to health authorities, local and central government, industry and communities.
Our water microbiologists look at the impacts of discharges to the environment and investigate waterborne illness outbreaks. They’re able to identify a range of waterborne pathogens and can link the bacteria to the source, for example human, cattle, sheep or poultry origin. We also use a range of molecular and chemical techniques to identify sources of faecal contamination of water, investigate viral contamination of shellfish, sewage and biosolids, and carry out wastewater surveillance to detect illicit drugs and COVID-19.
ESR scientists help to prepare Aotearoa's drinking-water standards, advise clients on interpreting the standards and the steps required for compliance, and develop new tools and technologies for monitoring water quality. We also help clients with major water-related responsibilities to manage large water-supply and water-quality datasets.
Recreational Water Quality Guidelines Update
Water recreation is important to the wellbeing of communities and can provide economic benefits from tourism. However, the presence of pathogens from environmental faecal contamination may adversely affect public health. Recreational water quality guidelines are developed to protect public health and to support management of water quality.
Wastewater-based epidemiology: A framework to identify and prioritise health determinants for wastewater monitoring
This report describes a framework that could support the Ministry of Health in identifying and prioritising health determinants that could be monitored through wastewater surveillance. It includes information that has been gathered from published scientific literature, organisational and technical reports, grey literature and discussion with experts in the field of wastewater based epidemiology (WBE). WBE has the potential to provide valuable insight into a wide range of other health determinants, including consumption of new psychoactive substances and a range of legal substances, including alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, over-the-counter pain relievers and antimicrobials, as well as exposure to environmental contaminants and infectious diseases.
Non-achievement of the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand: E. coli transgressions
This report was undertaken for the Ministry of Health to review data from the annual survey of drinking water quality to see if there was evidence that maintaining a chlorine residual could overcome occasional E. coli transgressions, and evidence of the cause of these transgressions.
Risks to public health from emerging organic contaminants in the New Zealand aquatic environment
This report was prepared for the Ministry of Health to consolidate New Zealand data on emerging organic contaminants in wastewater and the receiving environment, and assess the risks to public health of this.
Report on a survey of New Zealand drinking-water supplies for arsenic and nitrate
The survey reported here was undertaken to provide the Ministry of Health with an update of information on arsenic and nitrate in New Zealand networked drinking water supplies because of changes in our understanding of risk factors leading to arsenic in water supplies, and land-use changes possibly influencing nitrate concentrations.