Rural round-up

December 2, 2019

Permits will affect irrigation options – Jono Edwards:

The man who investigated the Otago Regional Council admits a planning overhaul will put deemed permit irrigators in a ‘‘holding pattern’’, but says it is the only way to ultimately improve things.

The council yesterday adopted a raft of recommendations from Environment Minister David Parker regarding its planning framework, which is the outcome of a ministry investigation into the council.

The investigator, Prof Peter Skelton, was questioned by councillors at a meeting in Dunedin yesterday.

The adopted recommendations include a plan change to create short-term up-to-five-year consents for water permits while the council reviews its policy plans.

Farmers have raised concerns these create uncertainty, and are too short to get banks to lend any money for necessary improvements.

When asked yesterday if this would put farmers in a ‘‘holding pattern’’, Prof Skelton said it would.  . . 

Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch wins Rabobank leadership award :

New Zealanders scooped the pool in the annual Rabobank Leadership Awards for agribusiness.

Volker Kuntzsch, the chief executive officer of New Zealand’s largest seafood company Sanford, was announced as the winner of 2019 Rabobank Leadership Award.

Mat Hocken, the director of Manawatu dairy company Grassmere Dairy, received the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award.

The awards are held annually recognising the contribution of leaders from across New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness sector. . . 

Bay of Islands strawberry farming family seek immigration reprieve – Jenny Ling:

A well-known Bay of Islands family from China with a thriving strawberry business are facing deportation – a plight that has spurred support from the local community.

The Jia family – Peter and Lina and their 10-year-old daughter Cici – have been ordered by Immigration New Zealand to leave the country.

The date of departure was set by Immigration NZ as today and comes after a years-long battle to stay in the country failed.

The Bay of Islands community have put 600 signatures to a petition showing huge support and highlighting the family’s concerns for their wellbeing if they return to China, where they say they suffered religious and economic persecution. . . 

A year on the beat for Middlemarch’s one cop – Shawn McAvinue:

The sole police officer in Middlemarch is enjoying village life after celebrating a year in the job.

Constable Allan Lynch, of Middlemarch, celebrated his first year working in the South in September.

He and wife Kirsty and children Richie (5) and Ollie (3) moved from Feilding in the Manawatu to Middlemarch.

The family welcomed son Fergus about a month ago.

‘‘It’s our first South Island baby — he’ll be rolling his Rs in no time,’’ Const Lynch said.

The family were enjoying being part of the tight-knit community in Middlemarch, he said. . . 

Historic Molesworth Homestead reopens in the heart of NZ’s biggest farm – Sophie Trigger:

The legacy of a historic South Island homestead will live on, as the “heart of the Molesworth” reopened this week. 

Farm manager Jim Ward had lived in the Molesworth Homestead, south of Blenheim, with his wife Tracey for 15 years when the earthquake struck in November 2016. 

“We’re in open country so we heard the thing coming,” he said.  

“We just took a door each and rode it out for a while. We knew there was significant damage but the beauty of it was that no one was hurt on the station.”  . . 

 

Grazing cattle not causing global warming – report -Hannah Quinn-Mulligan ::

Grazing sheep and cattle systems can play a vital role in combating climate change and have wrongly been labelled as causing global warming.

Researchers working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) based in Oxford University have discovered that methane from grazing animals in the UK is not to blame for global warming.

“A focus on the emissions themselves is misleading – instead it’s the warming impact of those emissions that actually matters. Currently global warming from UK agricultural methane is less than zero,” the report summarises. . .


Rural round-up

November 26, 2019

Security for Otago farmers unclear amid water plans – Jono Edwards:

Some Otago farmers could be left with “unbankable” irrigation schemes as the Government recommends an overhaul of the Otago Regional Council’s planning processes.

Environment Minister David Parker yesterday released a raft of recommendations for the council after an investigation into its management of freshwater.

It said the council was not equipped to transfer hundreds of century-old water rights into resource consents by 2021, and regardless it should not do so because they would be processed under its current “inadequate” water plan.

On top of the rewriting of council plans already in progress, it recommended an interim plan change to transfer the permits into consents in the meantime.

They would be for a maximum of five years, which some farmers say is too short to ensure future security. . . 

Food bowl or toilet bowl? – John Jackson:

New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. 

By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 5New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. OPINION: By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 50 Shades of Green banner. I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. banner.

I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. . .

 

No slacking for M Bovis effort – Annette Scott:

There’s no time to slacken off over the next year if the , programme is to limit the disease, M bovis governance group chairman Kelvan Smith says.

The M bovis governance group, made up of Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Ray Smith, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle,  Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor and independently chaired by Smith, meets monthly to discuss and review the eradication programme.

Smith said the group is focused on strategic planning to ensure the programme builds on progress made to date and continues towards eradication.

“To date the programme has found 207 infected properties, stopping further spread of the disease and clearing the infection from these properties,” he said.  . . 

Beef + Lamb puts money where its mouth is- Nigel Malthus:

A ‘model’ sheep and beef farm in North Canterbury is away and running, its founders say.

The North Canterbury Future Farm, set up by Beef + Lamb NZ in partnership with local famers, has had an “OK” first full year of operation, said the organisers of its 2019 Open Day.

BLNZ’s partner is Lanercost Farming Ltd, formed by the landowner, Julia Whelan, with locals Simon Lee and Carl Forrester. . .

A natural blend of grains firms – Tim Fulton:

Two New Zealand-based, foreign-owned seed companies marked a milestone merger in October.

PGG Wrightson Seeds chief executive John McKenzie has seen a good number of mergers and acquisitions over 45 years in the grain and seed trade.

Some deals went well and good and others were distinctly disappointing. The lastest was a natural blend, he said.

The sale of PGG Wrightson’s former grain and seed division has put McKenzie in charge of an Oceania business unit in a global business, DLF Seeds. . .

Pet day a national school tradition :

Dogs of every shape and size, miniature ponies, cats, lambs and guinea pigs put aside their differences and got together for Fairton School’s annual pet day last week.

Fairton School principal Mike Hill said, ”We are a little country school and pet days are a national tradition, and a lot of fun.”

The majority of the pupils had pets at home, so it was good to recognise the way they cared for their animals, he said.

It was also a great chance for parents, and visiting preschoolers from Stepping Stones @ Braebrook, to come to the school and be involved. . . 


Rural round-up

October 16, 2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy.

Water users are awaiting the second proceeding from the court on the issue, which is an “application for a suite of water permits to take water from the river”. . . 

 

Water groups welcome Lindis ruling – Jono Edwards:

Central Otago water leaders hope the Otago Regional Council will back future minimum flows with evidence after an Environment Court decision in the Lindis River.

In a ruling released last week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

The decision could have implications for the setting of minimum flows in the Manuherikia, Arrow and Upper Cardrona rivers.

Manuherikia farmer and water leader Gary Kelliher, who is chairman of the Manuherikia subgroup of the Otago Water Resource Users Group, said water users all over Central Otago would be relieved “to see a sensible outcome has been found”. . . 

 

Cheap avocados: good for consumers but selling at a loss – Eric Frykberg:

Remember the bad old days of the $11 avocado? That was back in May.

The passage of the seasons has subsequently done wonderful things for deprived palates, which were forced to salivate in vain back then.

Vegeland in Christchurch has been advertising avocado at 39 cents each on Facebook.

In Waikato, a roadside stall went further, selling small avocados for $3 for a bag of ten.

However, the industry organisation, New Zealand Avocado, said these prices were unrealistic. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards gives Taranaki sharemilkers confidence to expand

An award-winning South Taranaki couple has doubled the size of their dairy herd in less than four years.

Hollie Wham, 26, and Owen Clegg, 27, 50:50 sharemilk 400 cows across two properties at Manutahi, south of Hawera.

The couple bought their first 180-cow herd in 2016. Condensing the long calving spread was a priority. . . 

Nanotechnology solutions explored in agricultural sector :

Researchers from Lincoln University are investigating how to use nanotechnology in agriculture to increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.

Lincoln University Associate Professor in Animal Science Craig Bunt said his team was looking to develop a groundbreaking nano-coating which could be applied to fertiliser to control its rate of release into soil, and to seeds to control their timing of germination.

Dr Bunt said controlling the rate of release for fertiliser was important because release that was too rapid can result in excessive nitrogen being lost into soil and waterways, causing significant pollution and other negative environmental impacts. . . 

Time to be reasonable on convergence spend – James Porter:

This is going to be a difficult one, because I don’t think it is possible for us all to agree on what is a fair allocation of the promised ‘convergence’ money.

But, before we get started, can we at least agree the ground rules? Can we disagree without being disagreeable, can we listen to each other and assume the best and not the worst? Because tone matters – treating each other with civility and dignity matters.

We only have to look at the toxic state of UK politics to see what happens when the other path is taken and I – and I’m pretty sure most farmers, be they hill or lowland – want nothing to do with it.

My family has a foot in both camps, because although I farm on arable land, my heart is in the highlands. In 1976, my father bought a farm called Cashlie, near the top of Glen Lyon, that is where we spent our summer holidays growing up, fishing and swimming in the lochs and river, walking in the mountains, and helping with the gathering, marking, shearing and dipping. . .


Rural round-up

October 13, 2019

Farmers backed by court – Jono Edwards:

The Environment Court has backed Lindis River farmers and water users with a potentially precedent-setting minimum-flow decision.

In a ruling released this week, Judge Jon Jackson set a minimum flow for the river of 550 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1640 litres per second, which are the limits proposed by the Lindis Catchment Group.

This will cancel the limits set by Otago Regional Council-appointed commissioners of a minimum flow of 900 litres per second and a primary allocation of 1200 litres per second.

The catchment group is hailing the decision, having long said the original limits would be devastating for farmers and the local economy. . .

Fraser Whineray: a results-oriented business leader with a track record on decarbonisation – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  board,  under   heavy  fire   for the losses racked up  in  the last two years,  may at last   be getting something  right.  Its recruitment of  Mercury’s  CEO Fraser Whineray to the newly created  post of  chief operating  officer   puts him in pole position to drive innovation,  efficiency, and  sustainability  in the co-op.

When he joins  Fonterra  next year  he will bring with him the credentials of having transformed Mercury,  simplifying the business  through the divestment of overseas interests and developing a  compelling strategy for  sustainable growth.

Harbour  Asset Management’s Shane Solly  said Whineray adds  “a  bit of grunt to the front row at Fonterra”. . . 

Time to modernize our biotech laws – Dr Parmjeet Parmar:

Biotechnology advancement has been rapid, and we’re being left behind due to our restrictive legislation, writes National List MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

Biotechnology is occurring all around the world and we need to have an informed discussion on how it could affect New Zealand.

Our legislation needs to be amended to ensure that we can make advancements that need made, while having a clearly regulated framework that mitigates risk.

Recently I announced alongside National Party Leader Simon Bridges, that National would make the required changes to the Hazardous Substances and Organisms (HSNO) Act should we be elected in 2020. . .

Government must focus on maintaining land’s productive capacity, says Horticulture New Zealand:

Moves by the Government to protect highly productive land must focus on maintaining the productive capacity of that land. 

‘We need a national policy that ensures New Zealand can grow enough vegetables and fruit to feed itself, now and in the future, and at affordable prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘That’s why we support the Government’s action to protect highly productive land.  However, policy makers must also remember that the land itself is only one factor in vegetable and fruit growing. 

‘Growers also need access to water for irrigation, they need to be able to apply sufficient fertilizer, and they need to be able to operate machinery like frost fans and infrastructure like packhouses, 24/7 depending on the time of the year.

‘If for any reason, growers cannot do this, they need to have the option to use the land for other purposes.’  . . 

Agribusinesses reap accelerator benefits :

Sprout accelerator is offering $500,000 to innovators from traditional agritech and future-food focused start-ups.

Eight will be selected to join the six-month accelerator starting in January.

The Accelerator offers $75,000 worth of business coaching, mentoring, network access and MBA style block courses.

Entrepreneurs will receive business mentoring and workshops from world-class business owners and directors from across the technology, agricultural and food industries.  . .

Stop the farm invasions inspired by Aussie Farms Map – Brian Ahmed:

OVER the past two months, the Victorian Parliament has listened to farmers about the impact of farm invasions on farming families, our industries, and our way of life.

As a chicken egg farmer myself, I presented to the inquiry last month along with my daughter, Danyel, who I hope will one day take over our family farm.

Danyel spoke with passion about her love of farming and desire to keep our multi-generational farm growing into the future. 

But, as Danyel told the inquiry, with the rise in farm invasions, she is too scared to live on the farm with her young family. . . 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2019

Mainland venison marketer calls China home – Sally Rae:

When Hunter McGregor established a business in China four years ago, it was pioneering stuff.

Mr McGregor runs a Shanghai-based venison importing and distribution business, working with specialist New Zealand venison producer Mountain River Venison.

There was no market for venison in China and so it had been about creating both interest and demand for the product – “because it doesn’t sell itself”.

What he has also found is that running a business in China is getting harder. And that, quite simply, was “because it’s China”. “It’s the way things are,” he said. . . 

Looming 6A plan deadline pushed out – Sally Rae:

A significant milestone looms for rural landowners in April next year when new obligations are scheduled to come in to play to comply with the Otago Regional Council’s 6A plan change for rural water quality. But if a proposal from staff, headed to a council meeting this month, gets approval from councillors, that date will be pushed out to April 2023, as rural editor Sally Rae reports.

In a nutshell, Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner says parts of the much-discussed 6A are working really well – but other parts are not.

And with the deadline just months away, the council did not believe it could enforce what was due to come into effect.

Talking to the Otago Daily Times ahead of the council meeting, Ms Gardner stressed the ORC was “absolutely not” walking away from its responsibilities around water quality, which remained its number one priority. . . 

Fonterra’s losses provide more questions than answers – Keith Woodford:

The forthcoming asset write downs of more than $800 million announced on 12 August by Chairman John Monaghan are clearly damaging to Fonterra’s balance sheet. It also means that Fonterra will now make a loss for the year of around $600 million. However, the implications go much further than that.

The losses mean that Fonterra will need to sell more assets to bring its ‘debt to asset ratio’ under control. The losses also ping back to the balance sheets of its farmer members, where the Fonterra shares are assets against which these farmer members have their own debts. Many dairy farmers are already struggling with their balance sheets, with banks now requiring debt repayments on loans that used to be interest-only.

If these write downs are the full story, then Fonterra will survive. The big question is whether these are all of the write downs, both for now and the foreseeable future. . . 

Farmers are getting more milk from each cow – they deserve a much better performance from Fonterra  –  Point of Order:

This   is the second  chapter  in the  woes  of  Fonterra, and  behind  it   the  dairy industry,  on  which the  New Zealand  economy is  so  dependent.

Point of Order   listed  some of those  woes    last  week.  Now, in the  wake  of  the latest  revelation,  Fonterra  will  have to absorb a loss of between $590m and $675m for the current financial year.

Critics   of the industry have  sprung  to the attack:  Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones is calling Fonterra’s management “corporate eunuchs” and labels Fonterra’s board as “grossly inept”. . . 

Meat prices drive increase in overall food price index:

Rising meat prices drove food prices up in July 2019, Stats NZ said today.

Meat and poultry prices rose 2.8 percent, with higher prices for chicken, lamb, and beef, partly offset by falling pork prices.

Chicken pieces were a big driver of the monthly price rise, up 7.0 percent. The weighted average price in July was $8.61 per kilogram compared to June ($8.05 per kilo). As well as being a big contributor to the monthly change, chicken pieces were up 8.8 percent annually. In July 2018, the weighted average price for chicken pieces was $7.91 per kilogram.

Lamb chop prices reached an all-time high in July, up 1.7 percent. The weighted average price was $17.70 per kilogram compared with $17.41 in June and $16.33 a year ago. . . 

Finding the Will to Live

When Elle Perriam’s partner ended his own life in 2017, she set about changing the lives of others, embarking on a national tour in June to encourage farmers to ‘Speak Up’

New Zealand is in what can only be called a mental health crisis. Around 500 New Zealanders per year die by suicide, and we have some of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD. The statistics are even worse in the rural demographic, where suicide rates are 20–50 per cent higher than in urban areas. The pressures of agriculture, coupled with the typical stoic, silent culture that permeates rural New Zealand can mean that those who are struggling often find it difficult to seek help, or to talk about their private battles. Geographical isolation can also be a factor, with some farm workers employed on remote high-country stations for months at a time with limited off-farm contact.

In December 2017, 21-year-old North Otago farm worker Will Gregory tragically ended his life, leaving his family, friends and girlfriend Elle Perriam devastated. Following Will’s death, Elle, a Lincoln University student, looked for a way to create positive change in the rural mental health sector, and the idea for the ‘Will to Live Speak Up Tour’ was born. Elle, with the help of her sister Sarah, launched the tour at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival in October 2018, with Will’s black Huntaway Jess as mascot. . . 

It’s a tough time being a farmer these days – Kate Hawkesby:

It’s a tough time to be a farmer these days. I really feel for them. Sure, they’ve been through lots of good and bad times, that’s the nature of farming, but it feels like this current climate is really tough.

Farming seems under fire from the government in a changing climate of new taxes, regulations, rules. it costs more to be on a farm these days. And that’s before we even get to Fonterra.

After massive write-downs of its assets, Fonterra’s forecasting a huge loss this financial year of around $675 million. That’s the second biggest loss since it began 20 years ago. No dividends will be paid to shareholders this financial year. . .


Rural round-up

July 1, 2019

Climate change should not be blamed on farming alone – Anna Campbell:

My mother has returned from visiting my brothers who live in England. To make that trip, she was responsible for contributing more than three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere.

After finding this out, my mother who is a farmer, is feeling pretty outraged that in New Zealand farmers are the ones under attack for climate change. She is vowing to fly less and write letters of concern – why is the New Zealand Government so focused on agriculture while tourism flies under the radar – so to speak.

My mother has a point, according to data analysed by Dr Frank Mitloehner, a professor of air quality at the University of California, Davis. He has reviewed the full carbon life cycle of livestock products and transportation and has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals . . .

Successes or failures riding on Lindis minimum flow decision – Sally Rae:

‘‘You don’t just get a free ride here at all.’’

Tarras farmer Jayne Rive sits at the kitchen table of the Cloudy Peak homestead in the Ardgour Valley, her piercing blue eyes ever-animated as she talks about the uncertainty involved with securing irrigation water for the family farming operation.

In late January, Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson adjourned the hearing of, and reserved the court’s decision on an appeal brought by the Lindis Catchment Group and the Otago Regional Council against an ORC decision which, among other things, imposed a minimum flow of 900 litres per second for the Lindis.

The LCG was proposing a 550 litres per second minimum flow, saying that level was crucial to enabling irrigators to have sufficient reliability of supply.

Ms Rive has been part of that group, which represents irrigators using Lindis River water. Going through the process has been ‘‘incredibly worrying, incredibly draining and incredibly frustrating’’. . . 

Breeders seek seed law overhaul – Richard Rennie:

Plant breeders are seeking an overhaul of New Zealand’s plant variety legislation, claiming the existing act risks putting NZ behind the rest of the world in varieties grown or developed here.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said successive governments had dragged their feet when it came to updating this country’s 30-plus year old Plant Variety Rights Act. 

However there was now an opportunity for breeders to push for changes to the act,as the government seeks industry submissions on options to reform it. . . 

Stock agent reflects on varied life – Yvonne O’Hara:

A prostate cancer diagnosis led to Rural Livestock Ltd stock agent Terry Cairns, of Invercargill, making significant changes to his business to ensure job security for those who worked with him.

He has been a stock agent for almost 40 years, but trained as a lawyer, and has driven livestock trucks, worked on farms and worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

”I came to the job by a rather circuitous route, leaving school to train as a lawyer, which did not work that well,” Mr Cairns said.

”Roman law, the Goths, the Vandals, the legal system and other things pertinent to the noble profession didn’t hold my attention. . . 

Barn boosts milk take – Samantha Tennent:

Farming on a waterfront comes with flood risks and for Tony and Fran Allcock.

One or two floods each year is the norm.

Their 97-hectare property at Te Rore, west of Hamilton, runs along the Waipa River. It has been in their family for 130 years and Tony is the third generation to farm it.

The soils are heavy, mostly Horotiu sandy loam with some river silt and every winter 8ha goes under water. To help combat the weather the Allcocks built an Aztech cow barn, which they have dubbed the MOO-Tel, in 2013. . . 

Long White Cloud Genetics:

Long White Cloud Genetics is overwhelmed to announce the forming of a South Island based medical cannabis company focused on local production & manufacturing, creating new career opportunities and supporting local communities. Based in the South Island, Canterbury is the backbone of New Zealand’s farming and agriculture industry and is etched deep in its history.

Long White Cloud Genetics is currently in the process of designing and developing a high- tech indoor cultivation facility. Ultimately creating long term career opportunities in South Canterbury, which is home to some of the best farming technology and agricultural research and development. We have strategic partnership opportunities that will allow us to hit turnovers of 20M+ NZD annually which we intend to not only fulfil but to put some of that money back into local community projects and support mental health here in New Zealand. . . 

Can Minnesota save its dairy farms? – Greta Kaul:

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture rolled out a state program that aims to inject cash into the state’s struggling dairy industry.

More than 1,100 Minnesota dairy farms closed up between 2012 and 2017, leaving only about 3,600 farms in an industry beset by years of low milk prices and a long, hard winter that delivered enough snow and wind to collapse the roofs of at least two dozen dairy barns.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the $8 million Minnesota Dairy Assistance, Investment and Relief Initiative (DAIRI) this year, in response to crisis in the dairy industry in Minnesota, the seventh-biggest dairy producer in the United States. . .


One rule for councils

June 19, 2019

Queenstown Lakes District Council is seeking consent to spill waste into Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka Hawea and Hayes, the Kawarau, Shotover, Clutha, Hawea, Cardrona and Arrow rivers and Luggate Creek. :

The Queenstown Lakes District Council wants permission to discharge wastewater overflows into freshwater, or on to land, for 35 years.

The Otago Regional Council has publicly notified the consent application, at the district council’s request, seeking to authorise district-wide wastewater network overflows, which happen occasionally and cannot be entirely prevented.

The district council’s application said despite overflows not being a “new or proposed occurrence” they are not presently authorised under the Resource Management Act 1991. . .

The council has been fined for previous discharges.

The council’s consent application said overflows were primarily caused by things like fats, sanitary items, wet wipes and building materials incorrectly put into the system, containing 421km of pipes and 65 pump stations, or from root intrusion from trees growing near pipes.

They caused blockages and breakages the wastewater network, which carries more than 4.65 million cubic metres of wastewater a year, restricting it from flowing freely.

That could result in a build-up of pressure in the system and if overflows could not occur at manholes or pump stations, there was a risk the wastewater could “blow back” into private property, through toilets, showers and sinks. . .

Overflows typically happened at manholes and pump stations where they either flowed overland directly into water bodies, or overland into “catch pits” and the stormwater network, before ending up in water bodies.

“This is reflective of all wastewater networks and illustrates that overflows cannot be entirely prevented, or their locations know prior to their occurrence,” the application said.

It’s true that not all overflows can be prevented but that excuse wouldn’t wash for farms or other businesses.

The council aimed to reach the location of an overflow within 60 minutes of notification – the median response time in 2017-18 was 22 minutes.

After the site is made safe the crew works to restore the service.

The 2017-18 response time was 151 minutes, compared to the key performance indicator of 240 minutes.

While the council’s wastewater network was relatively young, it planned to spend $105 million between 2018 and 2028 on pump stations, pipes and treatment plants.

However, the predominant cause of wastewater overflows was not age-related infrastructure failure, but foreign objects in the systems.

“This means that it is important to educate the community that the wastewater network is made to transport human waste, toilet paper, soaps and grey water only, and that any thing else contributes to blockages and breakages that cause overflows and may affect the integrity of the system.”

Cooking fat shouldn’t be put down a sink and sanitary protection, disposable napkins and wet wipes aren’t meant to be flushed down loos.

The blockages which result from people doing the wrong thing can’t be blamed on the council but there’s got to be a solution that takes less than 35 years.

Visually, the application said “public perception” of raw wastewater directly entering a freshwater environment from an overflow was not expected to be “favourable or acceptable to those that live, work and play in the Queenstown Lakes District”.

“As such, a wastewater overflow event, regardless of the location, has the potential to introduce adverse visual effects …  while it is acknowledged the adverse effects cannot be entirely avoided, they are mitigated and remedied to a degree that the effects can be considered more than minor, but less than significant.”

Overall, with the implementation of proposed conditions, the adverse ecological effects of “infrequent, short-term wastewater overflows to freshwater environments”, were considered to be “more than minor in localised environments, but overall no more than minor”. . . 

Minor and localised the effects might be but again that wouldn’t wash for other businesses.

When farmers have been taken to court for effluent spillages that could enter a waterway it is difficult to accept that a council could get permission for overflows, even thought they’re occasional, localised and minor for 35 years.

It looks like one rule for councils and another for the rest of us.


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