NEW ZEALAND – Routine farm dairy effluent compliance monitoring in the Bay of Plenty has again highlighted the ongoing challenges of consistent compliance across the region.
This year’s results are similar to last year’s results where some areas have improved and others have worsened.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Group Water Management Manager Eddie Grogan said that while there had been some highlights of the season including Rotorua’s significant improvements, overall there had been a marked drop in performance across the region.
“Of the 354 dairy sites inspected this season, just 72 per cent achieved full compliance. Unfortunately, the performance rate has deteriorated from 79 per cent last year,” he said.
Mr Grogan said the increased level of significant non-compliance is the most concerning factor for this year’s compliance inspection with 47 cases (13 per cent ) reported.
To be rated as significant non compliance there must either be a discharge to a waterbody or a serious breach of consent which could result in a discharge to water.
“Reduction of the significant non compliance category is the industry’s primary focus. It is unfortunate that the considerable effort so far from Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and Fonterra has not yet impacted on overall compliance figures,” Mr Grogan said.
“We are witnessing the same repeated issues of non-compliance; irrigators and ponds are not being managed properly due to lack of gear maintenance, lack of staff training, and certainly lack of pond storage.”
The Regional Council continues to work on a number of initiatives to improve compliance figures. One change is a big shift by farmers towards incorporating storage back into effluent systems.
“The improved use of pond storage has been a focus for the dairy industry, and this is being strongly supported by the Council, with increased resource consent terms reflecting the infrastructural investment that farmers are now making on their systems,” Mr Grogan said.
“A new calculator tool is also used widely by Bay of Plenty dairy professionals and council to help farmers calculate how much storage is needed to get through particularly wet periods.”
Rotorua farmers made a significant improvement on their compliance figures this season. Rotorua recorded poor results last year with about half of the farms inspected rating as significantly non compliant. This season only three of the 25 farms inspected were rated significantly non compliant.
“A working party that was formed as a result of the 2009 Rotorua Audit appears to have been successful in changing behaviours and getting agreement on accepted practices. This was one of a number of successful initiatives undertaken in the Rotorua catchment and we plan to roll these out in other areas,” Mr Grogan said.
“It is clear that we have a long way to go with Bay of Plenty farmers to achieve our goal of 100 per cent compliance. Whilst it is good to see progress in some great initiatives, we need farmers to see the urgency and make compliance a priority with their farm management.”
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