Finding new and creative ways to keep Waikato’s environment healthy whilst growing the region’s competitive edge is the focus of the regional council’s stand at this year’s Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
“We urge people to take ownership of the issues and come to our stand to share their thoughts on how we can best provide for a better future for Waikato – environmentally and economically,” said Waikato Regional Council chair Paula Southgate.
“It’s by working together in partnerships on developing fresh ideas that we can best protect our precious natural resources and boost our competitiveness as a region, both nationally and internationally.”
The council’s stand at Fieldays, from 11-14 June, will be at site PF19 in the main pavilion. People coming to the site to share their ideas will be able to enter a draw for a Waikato weekend of adventure for two.
Ms Southgate said the Waikato was a naturally competitive region with great natural resources, excellent products and smart, hard working people. But it faces “relentless challenges”.
“Extreme weather events, such as storms and droughts, have affected us in recent years. Environmental performance is under scrutiny at home and abroad. Water resources are under significant pressure, and plant and animal pests are an ongoing threat.
“We need the combined resources of many people and organisations to respond effectively to these challenges and any opportunities to do things better. That will give us our best shot at keeping the environment healthy, growing a stronger economy and building resilient communities.”
The council’s Fieldays stand will also provide an opportunity for farmers and others to get information and advice on a range of regional council-related issues, including the need to obtain consents for dairy farm water takes.
Under Variation 6 to the regional plan, dairy farmers generally need to get a consent if they are taking more than 15 cubic metres a day of water for dairy shed purposes. Under special “grandparenting” rules, they are guaranteed the same volume of water they were taking for their dairy sheds prior to October 2008, provided they apply for a consent before the end of the year.
Some two-thirds of farmers who need such a consent have already applied. Staff at the Fieldays stand will be able to provide advice for any farmers who haven’t yet applied.
The council has been keeping costs for these consents down by group processing of applications in catchment-related batches. To be included in the last such batch, for the Piako River catchment, farmers will need to apply before the end of July.
The council recommends that farmers needing a consent, or wanting to take advantage of the group processing arrangements, should not leave things till the last minute as it can sometimes take time to get together the information required (for example, proof of how many cows were being milked on a farm prior to 2008).
“We want to make sure that no farmer is left behind in this consenting process,” said Amy King, project manager for the council’s farm water team.
“We know how essential this water is to farm businesses, and have a knowledgeable team ready to answer any questions farmers might have about their applications. If you’re unsure about anything, come at see us at Fieldays or give us a call on 0800 800 402.”
The council has been working with dairy companies, Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to help ensure farmers get consent applications in on time. As well as the council, farmers are able to call their milk company for advice on water take consenting.