Environment Waikato and Fonterra have signed a Waikato Regional Action Plan designed to improve water quality in the Region.
The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, which recognises the effects of intensive dairying on water quality, was signed May last year. It includes five target areas to help lessen the effects of intensive dairying on rivers and streams.
Dairy cattle are to be excluded from streams, rivers and lakes and their banks, farm races are to include bridges or culverts where stock cross waterways regularly, all dairy effluent is to be appropriately treated and discharged, nutrients managed effectively to minimise losses to ground and surface waters and existing Regionally significant wetlands fenced, and their natural water regimes protected.
Under the Accord, Fonterra and regional councils will develop Regional Action Plans to identify specific regional issues and actions. The Waikato Regional Action Plan was developed by Fonterra and Environment Waikato with input and support from Waikato Federated Farmers.
Environment Waikato Chairman Neil Clarke said dairying was a significant land use in the Waikato, and the Regional Action Plan was a start to improving water quality in the Region.
“It is one of the tools that Environment Waikato is using to achieve sustainable agriculture. We will continue to develop policy as required and work with dairy farmers and other stakeholders to provide education and advice.
“Environment Waikato looks forward to improved water quality and environmental performance on farms to meet community aspirations for improved water quality. This will help ensure our continued access to overseas markets.”
He said water quality in rural areas was declining.
“Through the efforts of farmers and industry leadership, the decline in water quality needs to be stopped for the benefit of the industry and the wider community. We’re looking forward to continued improvements through the Accord, especially in relation to nutrient management.”
“Environment Waikato is also close to finishing the Waikato Regional Plan, which signals the need to lift the bar by identifying priority catchments and the need for nutrient management,” he said.
He said it was necessary to continue to upgrade standards in New Zealand because if the country failed to do so it would have economic repercussions.
Fonterra Chairman Henry van der Heyden said the Accord was important in all aspects of Fonterra’s work because New Zealand had positioned itself in overseas markets as ‘clean and green’.
Fonterra supported the Accord as it wanted to be a good corporate citizen, but without the leadership of Environment Waikato it would not have happened.
The Accord demonstrated the value of partnerships and industry leadership to achieve common goals for the environment, he said.