The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's ambitious project to get the clearest picture yet of the region's freshwater supply has taken flight.

A helicopter towing the latest airborne electromagnetic survey technology called SkyTEM is flying over the aquifers for the next six weeks and scan them down to 300 metres, further than has ever been seen before.

The 3D aquifer mapping project is a collaboration with the Regional Council, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and GNS Science, using Danish SkyTEM technology that has been used extensively overseas.

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Regional Council chairman Rex Graham told the dignitaries that freshwater is Hawke's Bay's most precious and valuable resource.

"Water security is critical to the social, economic and environmental future of the region. Securing and managing our water starts with better understanding of what we have, how we use it and what future demand looks like."

The helicopter and SkyTEM get to work in the air. Photo / Supplied
The helicopter and SkyTEM get to work in the air. Photo / Supplied

The data gathered from the survey will be used to build a detailed 3D digital picture of the aquifers horizontally and to depths never seen before. The new information will improve understanding and management of groundwater resources.

The total cost for the project is $4.3 million dollars. It's a joint effort with the PGF contributing $2.15 million, the Regional Council $1.85 million and GNS Science assisting with $300,000.

The 3D aquifer mapping project is one of four freshwater projects announced during the PGF allocations to Hawke's Bay in June last year.

Others are a whole-of-region freshwater assessment, and pre-feasibility investigations on a Heretaunga flow maintenance/water storage initiative, and a Tukituki water security initiative.