Effluent discharges of Northland dairy farms questioned

By Dean Nathan

The Environmental River Patrol says the Northland Regional Council' testing regime is flawed. This follows a report prepared by the council in December showing almost a third of Northland dairy farms are significantly non-compliant when it comes to effluent discharges.

The Environmental River Patrol says a report showing almost a third of Northland dairy farms are significantly non-compliant when it comes to effluent discharge.

“It’s great that NRC has given an open report on their testing regime but I still consider that it’s flawed though really the process. It’s one day in 365 days so it needs to be tested at least three times a year I would say.”

Across the board, there were increases in significant non-compliance for farms discharging to water with consent as well as non-consent farms.

NRC Chair Bill Shepherd says, “This year is a bit of an aberration and there’s been a bit of a kickback upwards again.  We're not really exactly sure there could be a number of reasons it was quite a wet spring. That, of course, makes soil conditions more difficult for irrigation so it means that the farmers who have effluent storage have to start irrigating a bit sooner because they're storage is full.”

The Environmental River Patrol is urging council to consider using the technology available today that can achieve 24-hour monitoring at the discharge point all year round.

I think they're sort of doing it within the constraints that they've got.  And also the culture really of the environment. I mean most councillors are farmers in one way or another so you've got that sort of conflict of interest.  But if you've got the realistic to the minute data well that’s hard to argue with. Personally from the clarity of the water from looking at it. The green, the colour, the taste and from tests its way (shakes head) it’s not sustainable.”