Integrated Catchment Management

Mechanisms of groundwater recharge

 Research Status: Ongoing
Joseph Thomas (TDC) talking at 2005 AGM

Joseph Thomas (TDC) talking at 2005 AGM


The upper reaches of the Waiwhero Stream and Orinoco River have been identified as the area where rainfall infiltration recharges groundwater into 3 deep aquifers contained within the Moutere Gravels underlying the Moutere valley. Water from these aquifers provides the major source of irrigation water for land users in the Moutere valley. Continued availability of groundwater for irrigation users in the Moutere valley is dependent on annual recharge of these aquifers.

It has been inferred that the location of the recharge zone is controlled by the outcropping of a more permeable unit within the Moutere Gravels at the surface in the recharge zone. However, it is not clear whether recharge occurs uniformly across the recharge zone or whether there are preferred pathways for infiltration recharge. The recharge zone mainly comprises hilly terrain underlain by soils and regolith that has very slow permeability, and there may be a slow rate of recharge through these soils. Alternatively losses of water from streamflow in the valley bottoms, or from soils in lower slopes, may be a preferred pathway since these areas tend to be underlain by more permeable soils than the hilly terrain, and by more freely draining gravels.

With this precipitation-infiltration recharge model there is believed to be a connection between land cover and recharge rates. For rainfall to percolate into the aquifers, any soil moisture deficit needs to be overcome. Then surplus water is available to runoff or recharge groundwater. Changes from short to tall vegetation reduce the total surface water yield and this same effect is likely to apply to the amount of water available for groundwater recharge. Hence, TDC has proposed land use controls within the recharge area to limit afforestation and protect recharge of the Moutere aquifers.

The mechanism of groundwater recharge of the Moutere aquifers may also be relevant to aquifers underlying high terraces in the upper Motueka valley.

Research Approach

The objective of this research is to establish the mechanisms and rate of groundwater recharge of the Moutere aquifers from land within the Motueka catchment. Specifically:

Research Results

Results include: .....

Flood debris at Motueka Gorge gauging station Wangapeka River

Flood debris at Motueka Gorge gauging station

Wangapeka River

Recent Publications

Year Title File Size
2012 A Summary of Outcomes and selected formal publications from the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM)research programme:2000 – 2011
pdf       1.08MB
2010 Three–Dimensional Finite–Element Transient Groundwater–River Interaction Model in a Narrow Valley Aquifer System of the Upper Motueka Catchment. pdf       6.06MB
2010 Runoff generating processes in adjacent tussock grassland and pine
plantation catchments as indicated by mean transit time estimation
using tritium
pdf       2.16MB
2009 Significance of river–aquifer interactions for reach–scale thermal patterns and trout growth potential in the Motueka River, New Zealand. doc       21KB
2007 Hydrological Processes in the Upper Motueka River Valley, New Zealand pdf       3.78MB
More publications on this topic »
All ICM Publications »

Recent Presentations

Year Title File Size
2006 Integrating groundwater modelling and river ecology. pdf       1.41MB
2006 Integrating groundwater modelling and river ecology for improved understanding. pdf       0.46MB
More presentations on this topic »
All ICM presentations »

BMPs, BEPs and Guidelines

Title Description
Southland’s Wetlands assessment Guide A tool kit for use by landowners that includes practical advice and assistance to encourage the main...More »  
A National Protocol for State of the Environment Groundwater Sampling in New Zealand From website:
This document provides a step–by–step protocol for the collection of...More »  
Permeability Guideline A quick reference to district plan rules on permeability in response to complaints about increased s...More »  
All BMPs, BEPs & Guidelines »

Primary Contacts:

Image - Tim Davie Tim Davie  EmailSend email to tim.davie
Phone: 03 372 7084
Fax: +64 (0)3 365 3194
More details»
Environment Canterbury
Hydrology & modelling, surface water resource management
Image - Timothy Hong Timothy Hong  EmailSend email to t.hong
GNS Science
Groundwater modelling
Image - Mike Stewart Mike Stewart  EmailSend email to m.stewart
Phone: 04 570 4803
Fax: 04 570 4603
Groundwater studies, isotope tracing
Image - Joseph Thomas Joseph Thomas  EmailSend email to josep
Phone: 03-544 3394
Fax: 03-543 9524
Tasman DC
Water Resources
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Page last updated Friday, 7 September 2007

Related areas

Dating groundwater Upper Motueka water resources Valuing water