If some of the proposed water-quality nutrient standards are
applied literally, he doubts any drain discharge from an
Otago farm will comply, Dairy NZ consultant Dr Michael
"That will mean literally thousands of resource applications
[will be needed]," he said at the 18th day of the 6A water
plan hearing in Dunedin yesterday.
The proposed regulations would impose restrictions on
landowners which did not appear to be justifiable on an
effects basis, he said.
There was no distinction between discharges going in to a
"tiny stream" or a "large river" so the standards applied to
both, irrespective of adverse effects the discharge might or
might not have.
The proposed plan did not provide regulatory certainty to the
Otago community, with "inappropriate implicit and explicit
discretion" reserved for the Otago Regional Council with no
clear guidance on how the discretion would be exercised, he
"[It] does not provide the Otago community with an assurance
that the implementation of PPC6A would achieve 'good-quality
water' in Otago's water bodies by the target dates."
Fonterra co-operative Group former sustainable dairying
policy manager Sean Newland said Fonterra identified two
dairy farmer suppliers who would be significantly impacted by
the proposed 20kg/ha nitrogen loss limit within the Ettrick
basin aquifer zone.
"Our assessment is that it will be extremely challenging, if
not impossible, for these farmers to continue to operate as
dairy farms, even with what could be expected to be
reasonable changes in farm system to meet the proposed N
(nitrogen) loss limit. This concern is increased if Overseer
6 is to be used to model N loss."
Fonterra believed Overseer 6 would result in a significant
increase in land users required to seek consent as modelling
had shown nitrogen loss numbers increased significantly.
Farmers needed more certainty around the costs and
requirements of sampling nutrients. The costs of sampling
were "not insignificant" with "per test costs approximating
the value of a single lamb or 142 litres of milk at the farm
gate", he said.
Fonterra was planning from next season to require suppliers
to provide its nitrogen-loss figures which would be audited
and could be used to provide evidence of compliance.
Alliance Group Ltd environmental manager Francis Wise said
there did not appear to have been adequate consideration
given to discharges that arose from industrial and trade
premises, particularly the social and economic effect, she
"It is also not clear what the ramifications are for
activities that do not comply with the limits in the
schedule, and how this will affect existing and future
activities in the region."
Alliance consultant planner John Kyle said while the plan
change targeted diffuse rural discharges it had a much
There was "considerable uncertainty" in the proposals which
could mean the company's discharge permit for composting
leachate that might enter water was covered by the proposed
plan change rules.
"The implications are more far-reaching and will adversely
affect a significant number of existing activities within the
The proposed objectives were not suitably balanced and the
policies would subject resource consent applications to
assessment against overly rigid water-quality standards which
derived from "questionable empirical origins".
"The approach to rule drafting is fundamentally flawed and
will in my opinion not be able to be implemented in an
effective and efficient manner."
Panel chairman Cr Duncan Butcher adjourned the hearing until
Panel: Crs Duncan Butcher (chairman), David Shepherd
and independent member Clive Geddes.
Proposal: Changes to Otago's water regulations to
prevent run-off in rural areas polluting the region's
Submitters: Alliance Group Ltd environmental manager
Francis Wise, consultant John Kyle; Dairy NZ consultant Dr
Michael Freeman; Fonterra co-operative Group former
sustainable dairying policy manager Sean Newland and resource
management consultant Gerard Willis.
Quote of day: "If you have regulations they should be
fair and equitable. I couldn't look our suppliers in the eye
if they were more constrained by regulations" - Sean Newland,