Red light for 'green' winery
Four wineries have breached their resource consents during vintage, up from three last year.
And a Marlborough District councillor says at least one of the wineries markets itself as environmentally sound.
In response to the breaches, Marlborough District Council staff said their monitoring was working well.
The council is refusing to say which wineries breached consents, despite doing so until three years ago. However, it will tell NZ Winegrowers, who operate the Sustainable Winemaking programme which certifies wine as environmentally sustainable. A condition of that is that wineries don't breach resource consents, and councillor David Dew said some wines certified as sustainable were from wineries that had breached their consents.
"The industry should be self-policing. They should really focus on this, because they would lose their ability to export."
The council could not say yesterday whether any of the wineries in breach this year were in breach last year.
Later, Brenda Pottinger, who runs the council monitoring programme, told the Marlborough Express at least one was.
In a presentation to the council's environment committee yesterday, Dr Pottinger said that 39 wineries were monitored in the council's programme, 34 on the Wairau Plains, one north of Blenheim, and four in the Awatere area. Another six at the Riverlands and Cloudy Bay industrial zones are covered by trade wastewater requirements.
She said that to develop a more pro-active approach with industry, she made pre-vintage site visits to all wineries to meet the key staff responsible for the wastewater system and to set out the council's expectations for the season's monitoring programme.
A traffic light system is used for determining whether a winery operation is in compliance with its consent conditions or permitted activity standards.
These conditions assessed as green are compliant and no action is required - 14 wineries, or 36 per cent, met this.
Conditions assessed as amber means some corrective actions are needed - 21 wineries, or 54 per cent, met that. The breaches included wastewater results for faecal coliform, pH or biological oxygen demand were not within allowable limits, discharge rates exceeded 10mm/day.
"Although all of these wineries provided records for the volumes of wastewater discharged, most did not keep clear and accurate daily records for volumes discharged. As such, discharge rates were estimations . . . Some of these wineries had ponding issues during the inspection," Dr Pottinger said.
Four wineries, or 10 per cent, were assessed as red, meaning significant remedial action was required.
"Allowable annual and daily discharge volumes and discharge rates were breached, only one of the two soil samples was taken, or wastewater samples were not provided . . . These breaches are not considered significant enough to warrant enforcement actions.
"Instead, for the 2012-13 season, the compliance group is taking an educative approach with wineries so there is greater understanding of the consent condition and plan rule requirements for discharging wastewater to land."
Dr Pottinger said three "red" wineries were about 2300 cubic metres over their annual discharge amounts, or consistently discharged more than the allowable amount over seven months of the year.
The worst one had inadvertently discharged 10,000 litres onto ground near a waterway, with the wastewater going into the water. That winery was given an abatement notice to stop discharging and issued an infringement notice.
It was later affected by floods, and had to truck "tens of thousands" of litres of wastewater to the council's sewerage system.
She said that wineries needed to upgrade their abilities to provide information to the council, and to know more about the conditions in their resource consents. More education on that would happen before the next vintage.
"Some even struggle with plan rules. I find that hard because I don't think they're hard to follow."
Council regulatory department manager Hans Versteegh said the wineries were now in a feedback loop.
- The Marlborough Express