New Zealand consists mainly of two islands – the North Island and the South Island. By a quirk of fate, the South Island of New Zealand faces heavy rainfall with floods while the North has to deal with drought. The recent discovery of an aquifer off the coast of New Zealand under the Pacific Ocean comes as a welcome potential relief to the country. The location of this hidden treasure is 37 miles off the east coast of the South Island and at a depth of just 66 feet. It is one of the shallowest aquifers in the world and could augment the freshwater supply of South Island to a great extent.

The discovery was a result of some scientific drilling in 2012 during a search for brackish water. This is nothing but a mixture of freshwater and seawater. Once the scientists stumbled upon it, they explored further in order to reach the source. When they came to the source, they discovered that the volume of water available was anybody’s guess.

The Guardian says this discovery was significant. It would help drought-prone regions like the Canterbury plains. This crucial source of fresh water would offset the effects of Climate change in the region to some extent.

Joshu Mountjoy, a marine geologist, was involved in the study. According to him, nature was replenishing the groundwater flow on a regular basis. He goes in to add that most of the freshwater was trapped offshore during the last three ice ages. At that time, the sea level was considerably lower than it is today.

New Zealand to battle climate change

The entire North Island was in the grip of a drought last week. It was because of inadequate rainfall. It seems there was no rainfall in some places for months. It took the form of a major drought. In the opinion of Joshu Mountjoy, many places around New Zealand have to tackle significant issues in relation to their availability of groundwater.

These include Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. These places have to deal with increasing populations. When coupled with prolonged dry spells, they add to the problems by putting pressure on supplies. Obviously, they would want to fall back on reserves and the aquifer could be a solution.

The Guardian quotes Mountjoy as saying, “We need to set the groundwork in place for the future.” That is important because people have to cultivate the habit of exploiting their onshore resources. One of these is the groundwater system. They are a critical resource for society but are invariably under pressure and the aquifer could be a solution.

The undersea aquifer in New Zealand is enormous

According to Stuff NZ, the volume of water in the newfound undersea aquifer can fill millions of Olympic size swimming pools. It could become a vital new source of fresh water for the region. Initial estimates make it an attractive option. Scientists suspected the presence of undersea groundwater in the area in 2012. It happened during a drilling project. In 2017, they extended the operation and used sophisticated equipment to map the area. Marine geologist Dr. Joshu Mountjoy felt the discovery could be the first step to lay hands on a new freshwater resource. Timaru Mayor, Nigel Bowen welcomed "any further potential options for water security, especially in light of some of the extreme weather events we are having."

Environment is a priority for New Zealand

New Zealand wants to protect its Environment.

It sometimes experiences a wide variation in its climate between the North Island and South Island. While the former has to survive with drought, it is often the exact opposite in the latter.

This is a matter that the authorities want to set right and the aquifer could improve the situation. Incidentally, New Zealand has banned tourists from swimming with bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands. This is an example of the feeling of New Zealanders towards their natural surroundings.