Groundwater quality and groundwater use varies around the region. Waikato Regional Council issues around 400 consents each year to drill groundwater wells. Taking smaller amounts of groundwater (less than 15 m3 per day) does not require resource consent. Together, taking these smaller amounts of groundwater add up to a similar amount of water use requiring consent to take (around 305,000 m3 per day).
On this page: Geology and groundwater quality, Groundwater levels , Groundwater use ,Resource consents ,Find out more
The hydrogeological setting of an area determines how vulnerable groundwater aquifers are to contamination. For example, shallow aquifers lying under thin permeable soils, especially sandy soils, are at most risk from contamination.
Aquifers of the Waikato region are highly variable and include:
- basalt aquifers (Pukekohe)
- coastal sand aquifers (Coromandel Peninsula)
- sand and gravel alluvial aquifers (Hamilton Basin and Hauraki Plains)
- ignimbrite and pumice aquifers in the Central North Island (Tokoroa and Taupo).
Find out more about the geology of our region.
In some aquifers the natural water quality is unsuitable for some uses because of its chemical characteristics. For example, geothermal groundwater is usually not suitable for drinking.
The chemical character of groundwater is determined by:
- type of soil
- aquifer geology
- land use.
How we use the land affects groundwater quality. Waikato Regional Council monitors groundwater quality for the presence of nitrate, microbial and pesticide contamination.
Groundwater levels vary according to the amount of water recharging an aquifer from rainfall and the amount taken. Waikato Regional Council monitors the quantity of available groundwater at 92 sites throughout the region. About half of these measure large geothermal groundwater users near Taupo.
Allocated groundwater use has increased by 22 percent from 1997 to 2002. Although this is a large increase, our groundwater resources are not generally under pressure. Our climate provides enough rainfall to replace (recharge) the amount of water being taken at present. Average rainfall in our region is 1,250 mm, varying from:
- 1,100 mm in the Hauraki Plains.
- 3,500 mm in the Coromandel Ranges.
- 5,000 mm at Mt Ruapehu.
Where possible, Waikato Regional Council encourages the use of groundwater rather than surface water. Groundwater is most intensively used in:
It is slightly less intensively used in the:
Taking more than 15 m3 per day of groundwater requires a resource consent from Waikato Regional Council. Resource consents for water allocation are mostly for agricultural use and water supply.
Find out where consented wells are on our groundwater allocation map. Check out our indicator of groundwater well construction.
Taking smaller amounts of groundwater (less than 15 m3 per day) is a permitted activity and does not require a resource consent. Many farms use groundwater as a permitted activity1. To date, there have been no negative effects recorded from permitted use of groundwater.
Find out more
Find out more about groundwater in:
- The Proposed Waikato Regional Plan changes this volume to 30 m3/day except for the Pukekohe area. The Plan changes are currently under appeal.