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The Rise and Fall of Urban Groundwater transcript
Groundwater not only can it be a resource that  we can use for irrigation and for drinking water  
supplies but it can be a hazard. One  of the areas that's of most concern is  
along the coastal flat land where groundwater  can get pushed by the sea and the groundwater  
can push the sea back, and of course all along  the coast with sea level rise coming we're  
concerned about the potential for the sea to to  lift the groundwater and change its position.  
When we're looking at these coastal problems we  need to understand firstly that natural system and  
then what is the effect of the urban development  and how much is that changing the natural system.  
South Dunedin is a great example where the whole  system has been affected by urban development.
Well we're out here at  Moanarua, monitoring pisometers.
Groundwater flows into the  pipes and fills them up.
So what I'm going to do here is to measure  the level of the ground water with an  
electronic tape measure, and when I lower it down  
it will eventually beep when I  hit the water. There we are 2.6.
So this is another of our piezometers in the  network, we've got 23 of them across the city  
and this one's on the low lying part. And if  i drop this tape measure into the bore here,  
i don't have to go far at all. In fact i've  hit the water there, just 50 centimeters down  
less than half a meter we have saturated ground.  So in each of these holes we have an electronic  
pressure transducer, this is one here  hanging in the hole and they measure the  
water level and how it goes up and down over  time by taking a recording every 15 minutes,  
and we measure how much it changes when it rains  or when the tides are moving. At this site here  
we have about a one centimeter shift.  When the sea over there a kilometer away  
moves up and down a meter here we move  about one centimeter. And we measure all  
the changes during the seasons all through  the year using these pressure transducers  
which give us an idea of how much the groundwater  is moving from site to site across the city.
In New Zealand we have a problem with the  shallower the groundwater the higher the  
potential for liquefaction during earthquakes, and  we saw that in Christchurch that the very shallow  
areas where the groundwater was very shallow were  you know experienced very very bad liquefaction.
As groundwater rises it can then start  to flood into basements and subsurface  
structures and it can get in and start to to  rust concrete reinforcing and saturate things.  
There's also the fact the rising groundwater  exacerbates these other problems,  
so as it comes up it means there's less room  there to store water that would infiltrate from  
the surface so it exacerbates the flood  in estuaries or flooding and in rivers.  
And then this other wider issues that generally if  you're living on land that's very saturated your  
houses will be damper, so you get condensation  and mildew and problems inside which have  
corresponding health problems with respiratory  illnesses and things. As groundwater rises  
the ground's often a lot softer and behaves  differently and can behave quite differently  
once when it's saturated in terms of its  geotechnical properties so you have to design  
accordingly. Particularly you know if you want to  build a hospital or some school or one of these  
structures where you need a a better foundation  design. In Dunedin we have suburbs scale  
kilometers by kilometer where there's  some places that are worse than others  
and some places which are more exposed to the  potential effects of sea level rise than others.  
And if we go to Christchurch we have quite a  different setting we have there the rain is not as  
important certainly during the summer if it rains  the pavements are often hot and it evaporates and  
not so much water goes into the ground. We get  groundwater flow coming down from the Canterbury  
plains and the springs come out forming the haven  and they they drive where the groundwater is high.  
So these suburb scale things are really important  when we get down to trying to look at the risk.
And our real worry for the future of south Dunedin  is this relationship between the groundwater  
coming up and the surface water coming down  and having less room to store that water in the  
ground. It's dependent partly on the geology, but  it's also dependent on how much the groundwater  
responds to the push from the sea level. And  that's what we've been trying to find out when  
we're doing all of this work with the boreholes.  So what we're trying to understand is the natural  
changes to the groundwater system. The groundwater  goes up and down depending on the geology  
and the forces of rain coming on  top and the sea pushing in the side,  
and there's that natural fluctuation.  And on top of it we've constructed a city  
and so we modulate the natural system with the  urban environment, having roofs and drains and  
hard street services has an effect.
So what we're trying to do with this project is to  use south Dunedin to understand that relationship  
between the natural system and the urban system.  And how much it's been modulated. And what does  
that mean for the amount that we're going to have  to do that in the future. What sort of engineering  
solutions do we need in order to be able to  maintain this land and use it in the future.

The Rise and Fall of Urban Groundwater

  • Groundwater


    we have expertise to better understand our groundwater systems and the processes that affect water quality and availability. Our capabilities include; 

    • water and soil sampling
    • maps, models and databases
    • assessing sustainability and security
    • water dating
    • mapping, quantifying and monitoring of groundwater systems
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    Licensee training for use of industrial gauges containing radioactive sources / x-ray apparatus / x-ray inspection systems based on accelerator technology / industrial processing (sealed source irradiators) and security

    Contact: Gavin Wallace
    Phone: 04 564 8180
    Mobile: 021 036 5695
    Email Gavin here link)

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