Southland Regional Council is reporting an alarming increase over the past two weeks in the number of dairy farmers seriously breaching effluent consents.
The council's compliance manager, Mark Hunter, says the effluent systems on 54 farms were inspected over the past two weeks, and nearly half were found to be seriously breaching consent conditions.
Mr Hunter says it doubles the number of serious breaches of the past six months and the council is considering taking legal action against those farmers.
He says incidents include farmers applying effluentwhere the soil is saturated resulting in effluent ponding or running over into streams, and other cases where storage ponds are full.
Mr Hunter says farmers should be going into winter with storage ponds at very low levels.
Industry organisation Dairy NZ says the sudden spike in non-compliance in Southland is a huge setback for the industry. It says there are lot of resources available to farmers to help deal with their effluent.
Federated Farmers Southland dairy chair, Vaughan Templeton, says those few farmers are letting the entire industry down.
He says it's appalling behaviour and he won't be defending them for polluting the environment.