Tuesday 15th March 2011
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More Waikato dairy farmers are sticking to the rules to stop effluent reaching waterways, according to the regional council, which has nearly finished its aerial monitoring of farms this season.
Eleven percent of farms monitored by Environment Waikato (EW) significantly failed to comply with regional effluent management rules, compared with 25% of farms monitored by air and ground last year.
Those farms had discharged effluent into waterways or into drains and streams, or allowed excessive effluent on pasture near waterways or groundwater.
The council was monitoring dairy farms by helicopter, and had finished four out of five planned flights this season. Data from a fifth flight - over Matamata - last week was still being analysed.
Some of the monitoring was during wet weather which generated conditions that could make it harder to comply.
The council was monitoring 1000 farms, or 25% of dairy farms in the region, up from about 600 the previous season.
Breaking the rules could result in high levels of nutrients and bacteria getting into waterways, posing a threat to human and animal health and to the general health of waterways, the council said.
"This data indicates a range of initiatives taken by EW and the dairy sector are beginning to have a positive impact on reducing significant non-compliance in our region," resource use group manager Chris McLay said.
"The challenge now is to build on this progress and lift compliance levels even further. EW staff are working closely with DairyNZ and Fonterra to this end."
Since the release of last year's data, the council had increased aerial monitoring, Fonterra had introduced an annual inspection of farm effluent management systems, and DairyNZ had distributed a summary of effluent discharge rules.
There had also been considerable publicity and industry education on having effective effluent systems and complying with rules.
To try to improve the poor quality of many New Zealand waterways, the dairy industry, councils and Government agreed on the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord in 2003.
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