MHV Water will be doing nitrate tests of drinking water for the general public at the Mayfield A&P Show.
MHV Water is a co-operative with 206 shareholders across the Hinds Plains area delivering water for irrigation.
The co-op hopes people district wide will take up the opportunity to test their drinking water at the show on March 13.
MHV Water Ltd chief executive Melanie Brooks said it was known there were some legacy areas of elevated nitrate across the Hekeao Hinds catchment.
“On farm we know our farmers are making changes to reduce their nutrient footprint, we know that Hekeao Hinds Water Enhancement Trust [HHWET] are doing some great work with near-river recharge and targeted stream augmentation, and we also know that the legacy nitrate issues won’t be resolved overnight.
“The Mayfield Show is such a fantastic community event and we want to deliver for all of our community, so with the addition of a real-time portable nitrate sensor from Lincoln Agritech, which we purchased to assist with our programme delivery, we can now tangibly deliver for the community by offering to sample water at no cost at the show.”
The test required a 50ml water sample in a clean jar, which would be tested at the MHV Water tent on site at the show.
The 2005 drinking-water standards for New Zealand (revised in 2018) defined the maximum acceptable level (MAV) for N-NO3 in potable drinking water as 11.3mg a litre, she said.
There had routine quarterly testing of groundwater and surface water in the Hekeao Hinds catchment since September 2016, but last year the decision was made to expand the programme.
“We took advice from Te Runanga o Arowhenua, Environment Canterbury, HHWET, the Hinds Drains Working Party, MHV shareholders, Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation and Fish & Game to build the programme and effectively doubled our sample size.”
MHV Water continued to develop the programme to include more holistic measures of water-body health, Mrs Brooks said.
“The programme has increased our knowledge of the catchment, and also highlighted where we want to do further research.”
Last year Justin Legg, a senior hydrogeologist, was recruited and he had driven the establishment of the programme and was fundamental to its success.
“We hope that people take the opportunity to bring a sample to our tent and also take some time to see the most recent nitrate results and learn more about our wider environmental programme and how they can get involved.”
She expected considerable variation in the results depending on the depth of groundwater bores and their locations, Mrs Brooks said.
The information collected during the show would not be kept but people who got their water tested would get the result and be provided with information on what they could do to follow it up, should they wish.
Mrs Brooks has been in the role since 2017 and is also a trustee of the Hekeao Hinds Water Enhancement Trust, which governs the managed aquifer recharge and targeted stream augmentation trials in Mid Canterbury.
She said she was acutely aware of the responsibility that came with the use of water resources and was proud of the role MHV played in supporting the catchment in gaining improved water quality outcomes.