Agencies cite farm drainage concerns

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 11:04 26/08/2014

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The Department of Conservation and Fish & Game are calling for further conditions on an application to renew a dairy effluent discharge permit at a Waituna dairy farm.

Marshall Road Farm Trustee Ltd has applied to renew permits to take 90,000 litres of groundwater a day, and to discharge dairy shed effluent from up to 750 cows to land at a Marshall Rd, Mokotua, site. The only proposed change to the existing operation is an increase in the effluent discharge area from 50.5 hectares to 109 hectares.

The application went before a hearing panel at Environment Southland this week.

Because the discharge permit is considered a controlled activity under the Resource Management Act, the regional council must approve it. However, it can impose an array of consent conditions to mitigate effects.

In their submissions, both Fish & Game Southland and DOC expressed concerns with the application. In particular, a lack of knowledge on the location of tile or subsurface drains was a concern.

Subsurface drainage increases the risk for dairy effluent runoff directly into surface water.

Both agencies submitted a condition requiring the applicant to identify and map any subsurface drains within the area.

As well as this, both say the Waituna catchment, where the farm is located, is already over-allocated in terms of water quality.

A representative from Fish & Game said it was unclear what extent increasing the discharge area would reduce nitrogen losses to ground and surface water.

A representative from DOC said the effect of most concern was the potential effect of the discharge on water quality and freshwater habitats downstream.

In his evidence, farmer Reza Abdul Jabbar said he recognised the importance of farming in an environmentally appropriate manner and aimed to operate in a manner reflecting best practice.

No increase in cow numbers was proposed and the change to the discharge area would improve environmental outcomes, Jabbar said.

Opus International Consultants resource management workgroup leader Luke McSoriley said the application adequately addressed all matters under the council's restricted control. The issue of discharge from subsurface drainage could be addressed by way of conditions, McSoriley said.

The hearing panel will release an outcome in two weeks

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- The Southland Times

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