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The Northland Regional Council operates a radio and cellular phone telemetry network comprising all but one of the automatic stations. This includes 30 rainfall and 50 water level stations from the hydrometric network. Cellular phone and radio communications are currently unavailable at the Waipoua River water level/flow station.
These telemetered sites provide a "real-time" picture of the state of Northland's water resources, during both drought and flood conditions. During periods of extreme rainfall, the telemetered sites play an important role in ensuring that both the Civil Defence and the public are kept informed of flooding in Northland. During periods of drought, water levels are monitored and when a low flow level is reached, further monitoring is implemented in the affected river catchments. These further measurements are used to accurately monitor the flow and water usage in these catchments so that restrictions on usage can be put in place if necessary.
River hazard management will have the greatest influence on the development of the NRC telemetry network over the next one to two years, as several rivers in Northland have been identified as requiring additional monitoring in relation to flood hazard. Over the next year, an extra five water level/flow stations and two rainfall stations are to be installed in various catchments in order to service some of these rivers.
A communications upgrade during 2008-09 is scheduled to improve communications between the remote stations and the NRC base in Whangarei and update old equipment, in order to improve efficiency.
NRC has a comprehensive database for the storage of the hydrometric data it collects, which includes rainfall, water level, flow and some climate data. Data is usually available for use within three months of collection. Data from the Northland Regional Council's hydrometric database is transferred to the NIWA's National Hydrometric Database in Christchurch on an annual basis.
All hydrological monitoring and data recording conforms to the ISO 2000/9001 Quality Management System. This system has been adopted to ensure that all hydrological data supplied to both internal and external clients is "confidently useable". This means data may be used for resource management, engineering design, project operation, or scientific investigations without the need for extensive checking, editing and correction. An external audit is carried out at six monthly intervals.
During 2008, telemetered rainfall and river information was added to the NRC website. Data is updated on the website daily and allows users to view information as plots or as tabular format. During heavy rainfall events, information is transferred to the website every two hours. Further development of the website will continue during 2008 – 2009. For more information, go to - www.nrc.govt.nz/riversandrain