Water  |  18 Dec 2019

Christchurch City Council is now the proud owner of the world’s largest detailed local ground water monitoring network.

The Council has been gifted the network by the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

The sophisticated network of about 650 measuring boreholes, including about 250 with high-tech sensors, was set up by EQC to measure the temporary changes in shallow groundwater below the areas most affected by the Canterbury Earthquake sequence.

The scale of the network and the level of data it can produce is believed to be unique in the world.

 “The sensors have provided unprecedented levels of detailed local groundwater data, every 10 minutes, that have informed and inspired research and modelling  by our scientists, as well as our colleagues at GNS, the Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury,” says Dr Jo Horrocks, Head of Resilience Strategy and Research at EQC.

EQC installed the network initially to better understand the localised impact of changing water levels to help determine the increased liquefaction and flood vulnerability and pay-outs for land damage.

Now that EQC has concluded its three-year research project, the network is being gifted to the Christchurch City Council.

The sensors will continue to provide huge amounts of precious data that can help scientists, city planners and policy makers to understand, predict and prepare for the future.

"We're seeing more severe weather evens with climate change and this network will help us to better understand the localised impact on shallow groundwater and land drainage,'' says Christchurch City Council Head of Three Waters and Waste Helen Beaumont.

"We are glad to be receiving the network in collaboration with Environment Canterbury, who will also contribute towards the cost of ongoing monitoring and data collection.''

Environment Canterbury is developing systems to enable the data to be fully available to the public on its website.

Dr Horrocks says the sensors were a significant investment by the Crown at around $600 a piece but provide significantly more accurate data and more efficiency than the manual process. 

“The sensors have many more years of valuable use left in them and it is fantastic to see they can be used for other purposes,’’ Dr Horrocks says.