Using geospatial data to understand public water supply

Seminar summary

Reliable supply of safe drinking water is vital for human health. Despite this, there is no consistent nationwide spatial dataset of water distribution zones (WDZ) for Aotearoa New Zealand (A-NZ). In this talk, we will outline the development of a nationwide geospatial dataset of WDZ using data compiled from the 67 district and city councils in A-NZ. We will also outline several early use cases for the WDZ dataset. These use cases include 1) a retrospective cohort study investigating the association between maternal exposure to nitrate in drinking water and preterm birth; 2) a retrospective cohort study investigating the association between maternal and child exposure to fluoride in drinking water and oral health and neurodevelopmental outcomes; and 3) an overview of inequities in access to and performance of community water fluoridation schemes. This WDZ geospatial dataset unlocks a huge number of potential research opportunities to investigate the public health and equity implications of drinking water quality in A-NZ.


Dr Tim Chambers
Senior Research Fellow at University of Otago
Tim is a Fulbright Scholar (Harvard University) and a Senior Research Fellow in the Health, Environment and Infection Research Unit at the University of Otago, Wellington. His research interests include environmental health and infectious diseases. Tim’s current research investigates the potential health burden of drinking water contamination, with a focus on nitrate contamination. Tim has also contributed to the Covid-19 response through his work on digital contact tracing for multiple Government agencies.

Dr Matt Hobbs
Senior lecturer (above the bar) at the University of Canterbury
Matt is a Senior Lecturer (Above the Bar) in Public Health in the Faculty of Health and Co-Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory in the Geospatial Research Institute at the University of Canterbury. His research interests stem from a passion for using spatial data to make a tangible difference to population health and redress inequity in New Zealand. He leads various projects tackling major public health issues like the long-term impacts of air pollution, declining immunisation coverage, the transmission risk of infectious disease and more recently water quality with Dr Tim Chambers.

External Event