7 Apr 2011

Bay of Plenty dairy farmers effluent compliance worsens

2:07 pm on 7 April 2011

Dairy farmers in the Bay of Plenty still have some ground to make up in complying with effluent discharge rules.

The regional council says routine monitoring shows 72% of more than 350 dairy farms checked this season have met all the conditions compared with 79% last year.

The level of significant non-compliance - meaning effluent being discharged into a waterway or a breach that threatens that - has risen to 13%.

In contrast, there's been a big improvement in the performance of farms in the Rotorua catchment, where there's been a major push to reduce pollution levels in the lakes.

Last year about half of the farms inspected in that area significantly breached discharge conditions. This season, only three of the 25 farms checked were in that category.

Farmer puzzled over inclusion

The latest results in the Bay of Plenty has left one farmer puzzled over why he's wound up on the non-compliant list.

Paddy Briscoe, a semi-retired dairy farmer, found out his family farm in the Galatea area was one of those that failed to pass the compliance checks.

He's had no direct contact with the regional council on the issue but was told by the share milker on the farm that the problem seemed to relate to weed in a drain.

However, regional council water management manager Eddie Grogan says in that case the issue was more complicated.

He says the farm was given a non-compliant high-risk rating because the effluent pond was overflowing, not because of weed in the channel.

Mr Briscoe says he's heard nothing from the council about that but will be following it up. He says his farm effluent system has the means of dealing with effluent pond overloading.

Mr Grogan, meanwhile, says while monitoring shows it's still short of achieving full compliance for the region, efforts by farmers and the dairy industry are paying off, especially in the Rotorua catchment, where there's been a marked improvement in compliance.