SDG #6 Clean Water & Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Proud members of the Smart Water local government initiative

Building capability for sustainable water infrastructure through our civil and environmental engineering programmes

Leading the way with innovative research and community partnerships around wastewater bioremediation

With basic hand washing a vital part of the global fight against Covid-19, the importance of access to safe water has come into even sharper focus this past year, with water scarcity already a growing problem across the world. At Waikato we understand water is the lifeblood of our communities. With huge changes on the horizon for water infrastructure in New Zealand and increased incidences of extreme weather events due to climate change, management of this precious resource is a topic that our researchers are tackling from many angles. From our hydrologists and freshwater scientists to our data scientists, environmental planners, engineers and agribusiness exports, we are making a huge and varied contribution that will help improve the health of our waterways and inform policymakers about its sustainable management into the future.

Some things we are especially proud of

The 2000+ native plants which encircle the three lakes at our Hamilton campus.

Our year-round efforts to preserve the quality of our campus lakes.

Our dedicated research group within the School of Engineering focused on providing clean water for communities, businesses and industry.

The 85 water fountains we have across our campuses to ensure our staff and students have access to fresh drinking water.

Our collaborative work with iwi on freshwater issues through Te Waiora (a joint freshwater research institute which is now part of the Environmental Research Institute).

Our new facility in Tauranga dedicated to macroalgal research which will help our people advance their work in wastewater bioremediation with community partners.

Our work with NIWA to improve the treatment of wastewater in rural communities.

Macroalgal facility

Treating wastewater the algal way

New Zealand’s wastewater treatment systems are often overloaded and as several of our researchers are discovering, a solution could lay in algae. In 2020 we opened a purpose-built macroalgal facility in Tauranga to support our people to progress this groundbreaking work, under the leadership of Dr Marie Magnusson.  Indi Novak (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa) is playing a key role in this work.  She is a current PhD student at our Coastal Marine Field Station in Tauranga whose research focuses on the use of algae ponds in rural wastewater treatment as a potential solution to nutrients and bacteria entering the aquatic environment.


Spotlight on water quality in Waikato lakes

Leading freshwater scientist Dr Deniz Özkundakci has made a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge guiding the management of lakes across the Waikato region, with a focus on the impacts of agriculture. In 2020 he helped develop a strategic framework to improve modelling for environmental decision-making.

TAIAO team

Monitoring the health of our waterways with Artificial Intelligence

We have combined our longstanding expertise in data science and environmental science to keep better tabs on the state of our natural environment, so authorities can make informed decisions before it's too late. The MBIE-funded, $13 million project TAIAO, led by Professor Albert Bifet, collates environmental data from around the country and makes it available to scientists, ultimately so informed decisions can me made more quickly. The computer programme performs a range of automated tasks including detecting algal blooms on waterways with minimal human involvement. It also checks DOC predator cameras and helps map at-risk trees using satellite imagery.