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ESR's senior scientist and programme leader for the Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research(external link), Dr Jacqui Horswell, is one of New Zealand’s leading experts on microbial contaminants in human waste with a wealth of experience in the New Zealand waste and land management sectors.

Jacqui is part of a team from ESR and Lincoln Univeristy that have uncovered new science that looks at the properties of the Mānuka plant and its potential for helping to clean up our polluted waterways.

Water pollution in NZ is an increasing concern for regulatory bodies and environmentalists. Nutrient loss from agricultural areas and the discharge of wastewater effluent is a major source of pollution for freshwater and coastal systems and the three main water pollutants of greatest concern (the big three) are:

  • pathogens, (measured by E. coli)
  • sediment, and
  • nutrients (N and P)

Reduction of the big three is part of Iwi and Council environmental plans and policy in many regions. Installing riparian plantings and wetlands have demonstrable benefits on water quality. ESR and Lincoln University have shown that the Mānuka root system has some unique properties, and that incorporating such plants into bio-diverse riparian planting schemes has the potential to both filter and inactivate pollutants from intensive agriculture leading to improvements in water quality. The next steps of the project will take this 'proof of concept’ to large scale field trials.

Dr Jacqui Horswell has undertaken research into sustainable management of organic wastes for the past 25 years at ESR.  Jacqui has a wide range of skills and experience relating to sustainable waste management, particularly in the assessment of potential environmental and human health impacts of microbial and chemical contaminants in wastes.

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