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Published: 2005-02-28 00:00:00

Environment Waikato will be randomly checking Waikato dairy farm effluent systems to ensure farmers comply with the rules.

The Council has recently changed its compliance monitoring practices. In the past all farm dairy effluent treatment systems in the Waikato were monitored annually by inspectors contracted to Environment Waikato.

Environment Waikato environmental services programme manager Rob Dragten said the Council suspected that some farmers only tidied up effluent treatment systems when the AgriQuality contractor made an appointment to come and inspect it. Planned visits meant the Council did not have a true picture of the state of effluent management in the Region. This season Environment Waikato staff have started random monitoring of both pond and irrigation systems.

“With about 5000 dairy farms in the Region, the cumulative effect of inappropriate effluent treatment system management can cause considerable problems, and it is important that farms are inspected and standards maintained. Where a site is not complying, Environment Waikato can take enforcement action and seek costs from the farmer,” he said.

A series of workshops will be held throughout the Waikato over the next month, organised by Dexcel in conjunction with Environment Waikato and Fonterra. Dexcel has published a guide to managing farm dairy effluent which was sent to every Fonterra supplier before Christmas. Environment Waikato staff will be at the workshops to outline farmers’ responsibilities under dairy shed rules.

“While systems may have been adequate when they were installed, increasing herd sizes and the use of feedpads may have stretched their ability to cope with more effluent,” he said.