Waitati is a small seaside settlement, 20km north of Dunedin city. Surrounded by tidal mudflats, the Waitati river flows through Blueskin Bay and out to sea. Much of the settlement lies less than 5m above sea level, putting residents at risk of flooding events. The Waitati River catchment is unusually short and steep meaning in heavy rainfall, the headwaters drain rapidly with little warning to lowland river flats. Natural drainage can be severely restricted when water levels in the estuary are abnormally high.
The Waitati river has changed path from where it originally ran, with the old riverbed heading through the middle of the town. When flooding events occur, the river spills over and heads down the old course, damaging homes and infrastructure. Up until recently, residents would walk down to the river and assess its level during heavy rain throughout the day and night to ensure their homes and families were safe.
Natural hazard areas in Waitati - Otago Regional Council
Waterwatch is now monitoring sites along the river near properties that commonly flood. We installed two LS1 remote water level sensors, one on each side of the old riverbed. The LS1 is a highly configurable, non-contact, ultrasonic water level sensor ideal for open channel measurements. Being waterproof, measuring with 1% accuracy and a 10 year battery life, the LS1 is the prefered option for utilities, city councils, regional governments and homeowners.
The LS1 transmits data through the Sigfox network to Waterwatch Live. Data can be viewed, stored and analysed from computers and mobile devices, anywhere in the world. Threshold based notifications can also be set up to notify users of high, low or rapidly changing surface water levels.
Residents of Waitati are able to check the community Waterwatch page and access up to date river level information from their computer or phone. This link can be shared on other community pages or sent to friends and family who need access. They can also sign up to receive email alerts when their property could be in danger, giving them time to prepare. Find the page here: https://waitati.waterwatch.io
The Waterwatch LS1 is discrete and simple to instal, making it the easy solution to any unsupervised waterway. Waterwatch makes monitoring technology accessible to communities where traditional river monitoring equipment was cost prohibitive. Flood protection is becoming increasingly important with destructive weather events becoming more frequent. Installing a water level sensor has the potential to save infrastructure, property and lives.
Learn more about how Waterwatch can be used to monitor rivers and streams here.
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Over the past 6 years they have made a concerted effort to become a sustainable farm, installing a rooftop solar and battery system, as well as a solar water pump to become independent of the electrical grid.