Effluent management

Avoiding loss of nutrients and bacteria from the soil profile into groundwater or surface water is the key environmental outcome of a well-designed effluent irrigation system.

Environment Southland works with farmers and the dairy industry to develop effluent management systems that achieve the community goals for water quality and dairy farmers' compliance with their resource consent conditions.

The Regional Water Plan for Southland (2010) has a rule (Rule 50) for managing the effects arising from the discharge of farm dairy effluent to land. The provisions were developed with industry representatives and science providers, and reflect nationally accepted thinking around good practice for discharging effluent.

Which system should I choose?

Farmers who are underway with establishing a new dairy farm or those investing in a new effluent system need to consider the soil type and slope of their discharge area as well as designing a system that has sufficient storage to be able to defer irrigation when soil moisture is high.

Dairy NZ has important information on designing systems, managing and operating systems and efficient effluent storage available on their website.

What resource consents do I need?

The type of consent required depends mainly on whether the activity is new, a renewal of an existing activity at the same scale, or a renewal with an increase in the number of cows. If you're applying for a consent to establish a new dairy farm the consents will cover the discharge of effluent  and the land use aspects.  Further information about the consent process is available here.

Send us an email to service@es.govt.nz for for information on water quality in your area of interest. More useful information on Farm Dairy Effluent (FDE) can be found on DairyNZ's website.

Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord

Dairying, like most intensive land use including urban areas, impacts on water quality and water environments. The ongoing intensification of existing dairy farms and the expansion of dairying into new regions have increased the importance of addressing impacts on water environments.

The 2003 Dairying and Clean Stream Accord (DCSA) was one of the first major industry efforts to extend beyond regulatory bottom lines, engage with other stakeholders and take responsibility for doing better.  Since then the focus on water has sharpened further.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord builds on, and effectively succeeds, the successful DCSA that ran from 2003 until 2012. It seeks a further step change in the management of risks to waterways posed by dairying. In doing so it recognises the costs that accrue where freshwater values and interests are compromised. There are benefits in maintaining healthy waterways both for the dairy sector and its reputation as a high quality, sustainable food producer, and for all current and future New Zealanders.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord has been developed under the oversight of the Dairy Environment Leadership Group (DELG). DELG includes representatives from farmers, dairy companies, central government, regional councils and the Federation of Māori Authorities.

You can download a copy of the accord here.

Page reviewed: 19 May 2016 9:23am