Otago Federated Farmers’ chair Simon Davies wants councils to be held to the same standards as farmers when it comes to water quality:
Across the country, more and more catchment groups and other farmer-led environment-focused groups are getting stuck in.
In my own neck of the woods, the recently launched Tokomairiro Water Catchment Group is made up of farmers who are trying to do their bit to improve the water in the local river.
So I was appalled to discover the local district council has applied for resource consent to continue to discharge untreated wastewater (a nice way of saying raw sewage) and stormwater into the same river during high rainfall.
For some time now the agricultural sector has been being dragged through the mud over its environmental footprint. Farmers are now lifting their efforts, and spending a lot of money, to improve farm practices and the quality of the water leaving their properties.
They’re upgrading effluent systems and other infrastructure, excluding stock from waterways, running nutrient budgets and increasing riparian planting, to name just some of the initiatives.
Most farmers are aware that activities on their land can affect water quality. They’re seeing the benefits of changes they’re making and it is now an accepted part of being a good farmer.
It’s not hard to understand why we get grumpy when we put in the time, effort and resources to improve our sustainability but the same cannot be said for urban councils . .
Dealing with wastewater is one of the core responsibilities of district and city councils.
Yet too many get distracted by other projects at the expense of the infrastructure and practices needed to gain and maintain the required standards.
Farmers can be prosecuted for effluent spills that could reach a waterway. Time after time councils get away with actually spilling wastewater into streams, rivers and the sea.
Councils should be held to the same standard as farmers and other businesses and ensure best practice wastewater management is a top priority.