Farmers' effluent systems get tick

South Canterbury dairy farmers in the Orari, Opihi and Pareora have the best effluent discharge compliance rate in Canterbury.

However, nearly a third of farmers across Canterbury are still not fully complying with the rules.

Environment Canterbury's dairy report for the 2012-13 season, released yesterday, revealed 71.3 per cent (717) of the region's dairy farms were fully compliant for the season ending in July, a 2 per cent improvement on the previous season.

However, 21.3 per cent of farms (212) recorded "minor" instances of non-compliance, while major non-compliance was 6.8 per cent- a 2 per cent drop in cases on last year.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Ryan O'Sullivan said he was pleased with the slight drop in "major non-compliance" issues.

"A lot of minor non-compliance can just be paperwork issues, rather than environmental ones. You need to get your processes right, but it's really the major non-compliance - such as effluent seepage - that the public are really concerned about," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"Of course, the goal is for zero non-compliance, but the dairy industry is heading in the right direction. We know we have to clean up our act - there have been several high-profile court cases up and down the country. People are improving their systems."

The Orari-Opihi-Pareora zone fared the best out of the region's 10 water management zones, with a full compliance rate of 87 per cent, or 121 farms out of 139. There were nine cases of minor non-compliance in the zone, and nine of major non-compliance.

Mr O'Sullivan said ECan's compliance officers would usually give about "an hour's warning" before they made a site visit.

In the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury zone, 66 per cent of the 124 farms surveyed were fully compliant, 22 per cent (27) recorded minor non-compliance and 12 per cent (15 farms) recorded major non-compliance.

According to the report, "major" non-compliance issues included effluent ponding, discharges to surface water, spray drift beyond the property boundary, and farms exceeding their nitrogen loading limits.

ECan issued 11 infringement notices and nine abatement notices for the season-ending July. There were three successful prosecutions at the Environment Court.

Drumblade Farm, of Hinds, was fined $25,000 after problems with a travelling irrigator resulted in severe effluent ponding.

In June, Duntroon farmer Stephen Fenwick was fined $13,500 after a broken irrigator discharged effluent into a nearby pond, while Groundwater Holdings received a $19,000 fine for two separate incidents of illegally discharging effluent on its Leeston property.

The Timaru Herald