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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.

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