Water management feedback welcome

ANNETTE LAMBLY
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014

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Northland dairy farmers may soon find they will need to apply for resource consents to take water for stock drinking and wash down purposes.

At a recent dairy industry liaison group meeting options on how dair farmers and Northland Regional Council will manage new water take and water allocations requirements under the National Policy for Freshwater Management and Water Reform was discussed.

The policy requires the regional council to set water allocation limits and to meter water use to account for the allocations.

Council operations director Tony Phipps says even under the current regulations dairy farmers on an average size farm would likely require a consent.

The current permitted activity allows a daily maximum level of 10 cubic metres - around 10,000 litres per farm.

An average herd calculated at the interim daily volume of 70 litres per cow would already exceed the permitted level.

"The rules are going to get tighter," he says.

The council is encouraging farmers to apply for resource consent to take water as a way of providing legal security for existing farm dairy water takes.

"At the moment about 70 per cent of dairy farmers have a consent to discharge wastewater, but only a few have a consent to take water," Phipps says. "Water take allocations could be added to discharge consents."

The consent applications will specify all water sources, how it is taken, what rate and when. Meters have been suggested to measure the amounts and this could mean more than one meter if the farm has more than one water source.

Phipps says because of uncertainty of the actual water amout needed for dairy sheds and stock drinking, the council proposes an interim maximum volume until the actual volume is known.

The industry and the council are already trialling metres but there is a range of views on how to achieve compliance. The regional plan is up for review and the council seeks feedback on how it rolls out the new compliance regulations.

Further meetings are planned.

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