Environment Waikato wants to work more closely with the dairy industry to improve effluent discharges in the Waikato.
This week’s Regulatory Committee meeting heard that more liaison was needed with sharemilkers and new owners to encourage them to use land-based disposal systems and comply with consents.
Three quarters of Waikato farmers now irrigate their dairy effluent to land, while 1300 still discharge effluent to water under resource consents.
Agriculture programme manager Mark Davenport said of those, about 300 consents will have expired by the end of the current financial year, with the rest expiring over the next five years. The benefits of land based systems continued to be promoted, but there were always situations where that was not feasible and some alignment of the consent process to address these situations was proposed.
Environment Waikato proposed to continue its current inspection strategy of effluent treatment systems and monitoring for the next one or two years.
“There is great potential for on-farm management quality management systems to deliver on a wide range of environmental policies and desired outcomes, of which dairy effluent management is one.”
Close liaison with the dairy industry continued to achieve the benefits of quality management systems. These included follow-up inspections, which gave staff an opportunity to discuss land disposal options, and an annual measure of compliance for each site as well as an ability to focus on non-complying sites.
Since 1993 effluent systems have been inspected annually, and there had been a consistent and considerable improvement in the number receiving good grades. A total of 82 percent of systems complied this season of the 2500 inspected.
Councillors said farmers should be actively encouraged to switch to land-based effluent disposal systems and better ways of communicating with sharemilkers and non-resident farm owners needed to be developed.
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