Environment Waikato is reminding people resource consents are required for some earthworks, particularly those likely to affect environmentally sensitive areas such as waterways.
The council has recently had to take enforcement action as a result of non-compliance with rules relating to earthworks, particularly in the Matamata-Piako and South Waikato areas.
“Sediment is a harmful and serious pollutant that muddies rivers and streams, smothers fish habitat and increases water treatment costs,” Environment Waikato Regulatory Committee chairman Ian Balme said.
“The resource consent process is there to make sure people have appropriate measures in place to keep sediment out of our waterways.”
Environment Waikato is urging anyone planning to carry out earthworks to check their legal obligations with its regulatory team by calling 0800 800 402.
A permitted activity guide for farmers setting out guidelines for undertaking earthworks on rural properties can also be obtained through this number.
Cr Balme said any earthworks near a stream, on steep land or anywhere that would lead to a dirty discharge into water was likely to require a resource consent, unless could be done under the permitted activity rules in the council’s Regional Plan.
“It’s disappointing to see contracting firms who should be aware of the legal restrictions that apply to their business so openly flouting the law.”
Environment Waikato had been working to raise awareness of sediment pollution issues for many years through publishing information guides and running annual training courses for contractors, he said.
Illegal sediment discharges can result in fines and prosecutions under the Resource Management Act.