Waterways can contribute to the beauty and livelihood of urban areas, but maintaining their hydro-ecosystem health is challenging because they are often recipients of contaminated water from stormwater runoff and other discharges. Public awareness of local waterways’ health and community impacts to these waterways is usually poor due to of lack of easily available information. To improve community awareness of water quality in urban waterways in New Zealand, a web portal was developed featuring a real-time waterways monitoring system, a public forum, historical data, interactive maps, contaminant modelling scenarios, mitigation recommendations, and a prototype contamination alert system. The monitoring system featured in the web portal is unique in the use of wireless mesh network technology, direct integration with online modelling, and a clear target of public engagement. The modelling aims to show the origin of contaminants within the local catchment and to help the community prioritize mitigation efforts to improve water quality in local waterways. The contamination alert system aims to keep managers and community members better informed and to provide a more timely response opportunity to avert any unplanned or accidental contamination of the waterways. Preliminary feedback has been positive and is being supported by local and regional authorities. The system was developed in a cost-effective manner providing a community focussed solution for quantifying and mitigating key contaminants in urban catchments and is applicable and transferable to other cities with similar stormwater challenges.
Keywords: urban waterways, water quality, monitoring, modelling stormwater quality, web portal