1 results for Allen, Craig Wayne

  • Hydrological Characteristics of the Te Hapua Wetland Complex:The Potential Influence of Groundwater Level, Bore Abstraction and Climate Change on Wetland Surface Water Levels

    Allen, Craig Wayne (2010)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Te Hapua is a complex of small, privately owned wetlands approximately 60 km northwest of Wellington. The wetlands represent a large portion of the region's remaining palustrine swamps, which have been reduced to just 1% of the pre-1900 expanse. Whilst many land owners have opted to protect wetlands on their land with covenants, questions have been raised regarding potential threats stemming from the wider region. Firstly, some regional groundwater level records have shown significant decline in the 10 to 25 years they have been monitored. The reason for this is unclear. Wetlands are commonly associated with groundwater discharge, so a decline in groundwater level could adversely affect wetland water input. Secondly, estimated groundwater resources are currently just 8% allocated, so there is potential for a 92% increase in groundwater abstraction from aquifers that underlie the wetlands. Finally, predictions of future climate change indicate changes in rainfall quantity and intensity. This would likely alter the hydrological cycle, impacting on rainfall dependant ecosystems such as wetlands as well as groundwater recharge. Whilst previous ecological surveys at Te Hapua provide valuable information on biodiversity and ecological threat, there has been no detailed study of the hydrology of the wetlands. An understanding of the relationship between the surface water of the wetlands and the aquifers that underlie the area is important when considering the future viability of the wetlands. This study aims to define the local hydrology and assess the potential threat of 'long term' groundwater level decline, increased groundwater abstraction and predicted climate change. Eleven months of water level data was supplied by Wellington Regional Council for three newly constructed Te Hapua wetland surface water and adjacent shallow groundwater monitoring sites. The data were analysed in terms of their relative water levels and response to rainfall. A basic water balance was calculated using the data from the monitoring sites and a GIS analysis of elevation data mapped the wetlands and their watersheds. A survey of 21 individual wetlands was carried out to gather water quality and water regime data to enable an assessment of wetland class. Historical groundwater level trends and geological records were analysed in the context of potential threat to the wetlands posed by a decline in groundwater level. Climate change predictions for the Kapiti Coast were reviewed and discussed in the context of possible changes to the hydrological cycle and to wetlands. Results from the wetland survey indicated that there are two distinct bands of wetlands at Te Hapua. Fens are found mostly in the eastern band and are more likely to be discharge wetlands, some of which are ephemeral. Swamps are found mostly in the western band and are more likely to be recharge wetlands. Dominant water input to fens is via local rainfall and local through-flow of shallow groundwater, especially from surrounding dunes. The eastern band of wetlands is typified by higher dunes and hence has greater input from shallow groundwater than wetlands in the western band. Dominant water input to swamps is via local rainfall, runoff, and through-flow from the immediate watershed and adjacent wetlands. Overall, the future viability of the Te Hapua wetland complex appears promising. Historical groundwater declines appear to be minimal and show signs of reversing. Abstraction from deep aquifers is not likely to impact on wetland water levels. Climate change is likely to have an impact on the hydrological cycle and may increase pressure on some areas, especially ephemeral wetlands. The effect of climate change on groundwater level is more difficult to forecast, but may lower water level in the long term.

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