Master’s research shared to help stream


A father and daughter are working side by side to build people’s knowledge about the water quality of the Waikaka Stream.

University of Otago student Jessica McIntyre grew up in the Waikaka catchment, and wanted to combine her academic and local knowledge to create a thesis which presented up-to-date information on the stream.

She began her master’s thesis in 2018.

In 2019 she collected water samples from the stream monthly for her research.

Miss McIntyre said the main motivation for choosing the Waikaka Stream was that she was interested in water quality and water management, and wanted to contribute something useful to her community.

Coincidentally, her father was part of the Waikaka Stream Catchment Group, she said.

“He was excited to know I was finding information which would be useful to our community.”

After she finished her research in the middle of last year, she presented it to the catchment group community.

“It received a positive response from the public.

“We had people come out and ask questions on how to make a positive change.”

Her study featured interviews with 10 farmers in the area.

“I wanted the research to be more community-focused, rather than to specifically focus on science.”

She addressed the social and political aspects of the water quality issue.

“I know farmers are feeling a lot of the blame for poor water quality and they are actually doing a lot of the work to improve water quality.”

It had become apparent from her studies that the stream quality would take time to clear up, she said.

“It shows what farmers are doing now may not necessarily be reflected in the water quality.

“Most farmers within the area are doing the right thing but the water may not respond as quickly.”

Catchment group co-chairman Craig McIntyre said Miss McIntyre’s research was beneficial to the group as it provided factual evidence.

“Her thesis has given us an indication of the E. coli, nitrate, phosphate and sediment levels as the stream goes down from its source.”

The catchment group’s committee comprised eight members, he said.

Mr McIntyre said they had organised a variety of field days based on the information they received.

“Our catchment group has set up meetings which allow us to go out and demonstrate to farmers good practices around management on their farms.”

One of the demonstrations focused on sediment traps and wetlands, he said.

“We had someone from the QEII Trust come and talk to us and those who attended were able to build on their knowledge and ask more questions.”