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Fresh water scientist wins Kudos awards

28 September 2012

David Hamilton

Testing the water: Professor David Hamilton, leading research into lakes restoration.

A University of Waikato scientist working to improve water quality in New Zealand and overseas has won the environmental scientist category at this year’s Kudos Awards.

Professor David Hamilton has been working for more than 20 years on aspects of water quality and is part of a team that is trailing an aeration device on Lake Rotoehu, pumping oxygen into the water to counteract the harm done by nutrients and sediment that have leached or run off into the lake.

The Kudos awards are a Waikato initiative held once a year to celebrate science achievement in the region. He received the award at a dinner held last night (27 September).

Long-term solutions

Professor Hamilton and his colleagues are looking for long-term solutions that can be applied to any freshwater lake system. They’re developing computer models that can be used for prediction and management, which they hope will be adopted by regional councils and policy makers in their future planning.

“There’s no denying that changes in land use have impacted on water quality. The good news is that people now accept that what they do on their land can have long-term impacts on our waterways and lakes. So we’re working in a more co-operative environment these days.”

“Our LERNZ group also has buoys in nine lakes in New Zealand, China and Singapore that send out readings every fifteen minutes, so we’re getting immediate and accurate information and can respond quickly if we see dramatic changes in water quality. The benefit to working internationally is that you can collate data, share information, knowledge, software and hardware amongst like-minded scientists across the globe.”

Years of experience

He is the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Lake Restoration, chief scientist for Lake Ecosystem Restoration New Zealand (LERNZ) - a ten-year $10 million initiative to identify and remediate threats to lake ecosystems - and one of the founders of GLEON, an international network of 350 freshwater scientists all working with a similar aim to bring new technology to monitor lakes. He was the original author of CAEDYM, now recognised around the world as the foremost system-level ecological model for predictions of water quality in lakes and reservoirs.

Professor Hamilton is President of the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society, and the 2010 recipient of the Society’s medal in recognition of outstanding contributions to freshwater science. He is an invited member of the international expert panel advising the Queensland State Government on water recycling, and chairs the National Environmental Monitoring and Reporting review committee for the Ministry for the Environment.

Other University of Waikato winners included Professor Cam Nelson who recieved the University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award, sustainability coordinator Rachael Goddard who won the Wintec Secondary Science Teacher/Educator/Communicator Award and Dr Mike Duke from the university's Engineering School who won the Hill Laboratories Science Entrepreneur Award.

The University of Waikato is a gold partner of the Kudos Awards and sponsors the Lifetime Achievement Award.