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Published: 2006-09-13 00:00:00

Farmers need to check their effluent systems are operating properly, says Environment Waikato's enforcement manager, Rob Dragten.

“It is important to make sure that your effluent system is up to scratch. This means things such as checking that your irrigator is working properly – and if you detect any flaws, then solve them promptly," he said.

“If farmers have a breakdown or problem of some sort, let Environment Waikato know as soon as you can, as quick action to fix the problem can make the difference between facing further action or not”.

“Environment Waikato rules are very permissive around effluent irrigation, so farmers don’t have to get resource consents as in other regions, but there are conditions around how irrigation must be done.“

Mr Dragten said a poster summarising the effluent irrigation rules was sent out to every Fonterra and Tatua supplier in the region last year.

“This poster explains in general terms that when you irrigate effluent on the land, these are the practices you must follow:

“You must not:

  • allow any effluent to enter water (streams, drains or groundwater)
  • exceed any application rate of 150 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year
  • exceed an application depth of 25 mm per application
  • irrigate in a manner that causes an objectionable odour beyond your boundary, or may affect the health of others.

“You must:

  • have enough storage so you don't have to irrigate onto wet soils
  • manage your storage so that it never overflows
  • ensure that all storage is properly sealed
  • be able to provide information which shows you are complying with the rules, if requested.

“These plain-English guidelines represent a summary of the rules. For more information on the exact wording of the dairy effluent standards, check out our website www.ew.govt.nz or call Environment Waikato’s Freephone 0800 800 401.”

Mr Dragten noted that the recent Ministry for the Environment report on the Clean Streams Accord had pointed out that farmers were doing well with fencing of waterways. However there were still major concerns in the Waikato over dairy effluent pollution.

"The report notes that there is quite a high level of significant non-compliance (16 per cent) in the Waikato region for dairy effluent.

"What we're saying is get out and make changes now so that your effluent management is going to more than meet compliance standards.”