Waikato Regional Council is urging a remaining small group of farmers needing to make applications for dairy shed water take consents to get them in before a deadline of 24 December.
Under the council’s Variation 6 rules, dairy farmers can still take up to 15 cubic metres a day from bores or waterways for dairy shed water, subject to water availability, but need a consent if they want to take more.
While still needing to apply for a consent, farmers are guaranteed “grandparented” access to the level above 15 cu m/day they were using at October 2008 provided they meet the deadline for applications. Those who don’t meet the deadline can’t be guaranteed access to the special “grandparenting” rules.
About 90 per cent of an estimated 2600 farmers needing a “grandparented” consented take have got their applications in already.
This follows an educational effort by the council with fantastic support from DairyNZ, dairy companies and Federated Farmers, as well as a special group consent processing scheme operated by the council which has encouraged early applications en masse to help keep processing costs down.
“We’re nearly there in terms of getting in the expected number of applications. We strongly urge any remaining farmers wanting a grandparented consent at 2008 levels to ensure they meet the deadline,” said farm water project manager Amy King.
For those farmers not covered by the grandparenting provisions, it is just as important that they contact the council to discuss their individual circumstances so they can explore options to gain lawful access to water if they need a consent. The contact number is 0800 800 402.
Advice on consenting is also available from dairy companies or by visiting www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/watertakes
Ms King said Variation 6 itself was a response to the environmental pressure resulting from increased demand for water.
New central Government policy like the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management also reflects the increased pressure on water resources and the need to manage those resources.
Ms King noted that the need to leave enough water in the ground or in waterways, to sustain the various uses of these waterways now and into the future, means there is potential for constraints on the access to water.
However, if limited by water availability, Ms King said there was also potential for farmers and others to:
- improve water use efficiency so they can do more with the same amount of water.
- transfer water permits between parties
- harvest and store water at high flow times for use at other times.
“We are aware there are farmers who have reduced their water usage in the dairy shed through a variety of efficiency gains which has enabled them to milk more cows but with no increase to their overall shed water needs” said Ms King.
“DairyNZ in particular have been active in looking into and providing advice to farmers about such options.”
Ms King said it was important for farmers to seek advice if they were considering expanding their operations, and their need for water, under Variation 6.