A decision about whether or not to sign up to the dairy
sector's new water accord has divided Otago regional
The council, along with others nationally, has been asked to
sign up to the accord as a ''friend'' but the implications of
this worried some councillors, while others were concerned
not signing would alienate the dairy sector.
Councillors voted three times before a final decision was
made to sign the document - although not all were happy.
The water accord, developed by the Dairy Environment
Leadership Group in consultation with the Government,
regional councils, iwi and Fish and Game Council, outlined
the industry's approach to ''enhancing the overall
performance of dairy farming as it affects freshwater''.
Council policy and resource planning director Fraser McRae
recommended councillors not sign, because council's Plan
Change 6A (water quality) indicated greater management
changes than envisaged in the accord.
''Successfully implementing the accord will most likely not
have sufficient impact on water quality effects to satisfy
the water plan's objectives of maintaining water quality and
enhancing degraded water,'' he said.
Industry documents like these were used as a ''defence
attempt'' when people did not meet council targets and he was
concerned it ''undersold the efforts required'' by dairy
farmers to improve water quality, he said.
Cr Michael Deaker said he did not believe the accord had
enough substance to ''produce high water quality'' in the
region's hottest spots, such as the Pomahaka, Tokomairiro and
Chairman Stephen Woodhead said while he supported the
industry's initiative, the council had its own expectations
of what was required in Otago and did not need to be tied to
Cr Sam Neill said the council was there to administer the law
and should be friends, not enemies of the sector.
''Their aim is our aim. Not signing it smacks of
Cr Doug Brown agreed, saying he was surprised at the
recommendation, as it would be difficult for the dairy
industry to go much further than it had, given every regional
council had different approaches to water quality.
''I still think not signing this sends a bad message.''
Cr Trevor Kempton said the document was aspirational and
there were no consequences in it for those who did not follow
it, which was contrary to what the council was trying to
''I'd be concerned that if we signed it we'd compromise our
Cr Louise Croot said the council had spent a lot of time and
effort on the earlier Clean Stream Accord which did not
achieve anything. She did not believe the council should
Cr Kempton asked the committee to consider a caveat
emphasising the council's rights to implement its rules under
the Resource Management Act but the motion was lost.
Cr Neill's recommendation that the council sign the document
• Dairy farmers will exclude cattle from
significant waterways and significant wetlands.
• Riparian planting will occur where it would
provide a water quality benefit.
• Crossing waterways by dairy cows will not
result in degradation of waterways.
• Dairy farmers will manage nitrogen and
phosphorous loss from their systems and pursue continuous
nutrient use efficiency.
• Dairy farms will comply with regional council
effluent management rules and or resource consent conditions.
• Effluent systems installed will be fit for
purpose and able to achieve 365-day compliance.
• Irrigation systems will be designed and
operated to maximise the amount of water needed to meet