Effluent compliance requires upgrades

As environmental compliance for dairying continues to tighten, business increases for those who are involved in constructing facilities and systems to meet effluent and run-off standards.

Federated Farmers reports 887 farming effluent discharge holders in Southland, and with continued revision to compliance requirements, farmers are having to install new systems or upgrade in order to remain compliant.

Pete Excell, owner of Pete Excell Building Ltd, said his company began working with effluent treatment and containment systems about four years ago, after being approached by a client.

Since then, effluent projects had increased to make up about 25% of total jobs completed by his business, and work was completed as far afield as Omakau in Central Otago.

Changes to compliance requirements developed so fast that some systems that might well have met standards last year, might not be accepted today, Mr Excell said.

''It is not something that is standing still. People are trying to do it better and be more environmentally friendly,'' he said.

''Most of the boys are trying really hard to clean their act up.''

An Environment Southland environmental compliance monitoring report released in December found that full compliance on dairy farms during effluent discharge consent inspections had increased, while both minor and marginal non-compliance had somewhat decreased.

However, instances of significant non-compliance had slightly increased.

Federated Farmers Southland provincial president Russell MacPherson said in a press release that Federated Farmers believed a new attitude shown by Environment Southland was beginning to pay off.

Farmers previously felt they would be ''belted for anything'', but were now seeing partnership and greater understanding, Mr MacPherson said.

Mr Excell said the size of effluent treatment systems his company constructed covered anything from between 60sq m to about 600-700sq m, with average systems probably costing about $250,000, he said.

''Some new systems are costing half a million dollars, so farmers get frustrated when they only hear the negative side [of dairy and effluent issues]. It's not like they are sitting on their hands.''

- by Leith Huffadine