Sustainable Groundwater Allocation

Groundwater allocation is a crucial strategic issue for New Zealand because most irrigation development in the medium term will use groundwater, and use of groundwater for irrigation has significant economic, environmental, social and cultural effects. The scale of these effects, in physical terms, starts at paddock scale (or smaller) and accumulates to catchment scale. Water allocation decisions also have financial impacts, directly affecting the socio-economic well-being of individuals, their families, the communities in which they live, and the nation as a whole.

What impact does increasing amounts of groundwater abstraction have on the flow regime of groundwater-fed rivers and streams? How much do these flow regime changes affect in-stream habitat values, and ecosystem function? What impact does increasing abstraction have on the reliability of water supplies to individual groundwater users, and on the socio-economic well being of communities? How does the community decide how much groundwater to allocate for abstraction, and how much to leave to sustain groundwater dependent ecosystems?

These are some of the questions that Aqualinc staff are trying to find answers to, through a mix of research and special investigations being conducted in partnership with agencies such as Lincoln Ventures Ltd, NIWA and Lincoln University.

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