WORLD FIRST: Southern Cross University professor Dr Isaac Santos and PhD student Praktan Wadnerkar examine how floods affect the water quality of Coffs Creek.
WORLD FIRST: Southern Cross University professor Dr Isaac Santos and PhD student Praktan Wadnerkar examine how floods affect the water quality of Coffs Creek. Keagan Elder

Flood chasers examine water quality in 'world leading' study

A "WORLD leading” flood chase experiment is examining how floods change the quality of local waterways.

Southern Cross University Professor Isaac Santos and a collection of PhD students have been collecting samples from Coffs Creek and Hearnes Lake since Saturday.

Dr Santos said the group of "flood chasers” were looking at gas, chemical and metal levels before, during and after floods.

He said about 10,000 data entries will be looked at, examining levels of carbon, radon, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the waterways from the ocean, rains and aquifers.

Dr Santos said the experiment was "world leading” as the technology to monitor aquifers previously wasn't available.

With the Coffs Coast enveloped farm land, Dr Santos said the study will look at the impact of horticulture and other farming practices.

"That's one of the questions we're trying to answer. We don't know (the affects farming has on waterways),” Dr Santos said.

The collection of flood chasers will continuously sample Coffs Creek and Hearnes Lake every few hours.

During the heavy rains yesterday, samples were collected every minute.

Dr Santos said the water quality of Coffs Creek quickly changed during the rain.

"You can see how quick the creek responds to the waterfall,” he said.

"The technology gives us real time data. We have a natural lab.”

Dr Santos said the whole project will take about three years to finish.



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