Efficiency and saving farmers money are the aims of a plan for the receiving and processing of dairy farm water take consents required from Waikato Regional Council.
As announced earlier this year, the council is implementing a new water allocation policy called Variation 6 to the regional plan.
The policy – finalised after extensive consultation and hearings in the Environment Court – is designed to ensure that fresh water takes in the region help meet regional and national objectives.
For around 3500 of the region’s dairy farmers, the policy means having to get a consent for their dairy shed water take.
That’s because almost all dairy farms taking more than 15 cubic metres of water per day for milk cooling and shed washdown purposes will need consent. It is expected this will affect any dairy farm with a herd size of 215 cows or more.
Special provisions have been given to dairy shed takes that existed prior to 15 October 2008. These effectively “grandparent” the ability to take the amount of water used prior to this date. For most farms, however, an application for resource consent still needs to be made prior to 1 January 2015 to secure this grandparented water.
If farmers requiring a consent are taking more water now than in 2008 this “extra” water will not be grandparented. It’s recommended farmers in such situations contact the council or a consultant for advice.
To help keep the consenting process as simple as possible - and to keep consent processing costs down for farmers – the council is seeking to receive consent applications on a phased, catchment by catchment basis.
“We will invite various catchments to submit consent applications by a specified time - that way we can group similar applications together and process them together to reduce costs to the individual farmer,” said resource use division manager Brent Sinclair.
Expected catchment closing dates are:
“Any farm can apply for a consent at any time before 1 January 2015 but the benefits of taking a catchment by catchment approach is that it will help the council be more efficient and keep consent processing costs down,” said Mr Sinclair.
Farmers are being written to about the consenting process outlining the options.
“We are also working with industry and Federated Farmers to help make this consenting process as simple as possible,” said Mr Sinclair.
“Farmers who don’t apply for relevant consents before 1 January 2015 may find that the consent process is complex and that there is no guarantee of obtaining consent.
“By applying prior to catchment group deadlines farmers will have the best chance of a streamlined and more cost effective process.”
Farmers with enquiries can visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/watertakes or call 0800 800 402.