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Regional Council shortlists sites for managed aquifer recharge


The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has shortlisted potential sites for a Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) pilot in Central Hawke’s Bay and is now conducting field testing to validate and determine site feasibility.

MAR  is a technology used to purposefully recharge aquifers leading to increases in ground water levels. MAR is designed to mimic and complement the natural recharge processes to help manage the overall water balance for catchments, restoring groundwater that has been drawn upon during periods of peak demand. 

The Regional Council's Regional Water Security Programme director Tom Skerman says the council, with support from the Provincial Growth Fund, is investigating the pilot options.

 “A pilot will work by capturing high water flows from rivers in the winter and filtering the water through a dedicated wetland to supplement both deep and shallow aquifers,” he says.

 The Regional Council will confirm the pilot site  in the next couple of months and is aiming for the pilot to be consented and operational by the end of the year.

 “When we have confirmed the site we will share this with the local community and we will share data and results from the operation of the pilot on an ongoing basis,” says Mr Skerman.

 MAR is used widely around the world and is being trialed in parts of New Zealand.

 Mr Skerman says by replenishing groundwater, the Regional Council is seeking to increase the amount of water held in natural, underground water aquifers and proactively offset the increasing pressures from drought and extreme weather events driven by a changing climate.

The MAR pilot programme is part of the Regional Council’s Regional Water Security Programme. The council is quantifing Hawke’s Bay’s freshwater resources and looking at what future supply and demand looks like against a range of scenarios.

 This comprehensive Regional Water Assessment will for the first time identify a range of options including both supply and demand based measures to support decisions that equitably share Hawke’s Bay’s freshwater security for the benefit of the natural environment and the region’s people.

 The Regional Council is also investigating the potential for a number of small- to medium-sized water storage facilities to supplement lowland stream flows in the Heretaunga region.

 To find out more about the Regional Water Assessment, go to and search #watersecurity


31 March 2021

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