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3.5.4 Implementation Methods - Discharges

3.5.4.1 Environmental Education*

Waikato Regional Council will, through environmental education programmes:

  1. Raise awareness of the use of land treatment as an environmentally sound method of treating some waste streams where soils allow, and recycling the nutrients and water they contain, as an alternative to disposal to water.
  2. Encourage waste reduction and reuse programmes in industry and the community to minimise waste discharge volumes.
  3. Raise awareness of the adverse effects of:
    1. urban stormwater discharges on water quality
    2. household water introduced into stormwater systems.

3.5.4.2 Promotion

Waikato Regional Council will encourage and promote industry research into effluent management practices, specifically:

  1. Land-based irrigation systems.
  2. Methods for improving effluent quality.
  3. New technologies for managing agricultural effluents.

3.5.4.3 Part XII RMA Enforcement

Waikato Regional Council will apply for enforcement orders, issue abatement notices and use other enforcement mechanisms in Part XII of the RMA, where, as a result of inappropriate discharge practices, significant adverse effects on water bodies occur, including:

  1. Significant adverse effects on water quality.
  2. Significant downstream flooding or erosion.
  3. Significant downstream siltation.


Advisory Note:

  • Refer also to enforcement methods regarding adverse effects on soil and air quality in Section 5.2.6.1 of this Plan.

3.5.4.4 Permitted Activity Rule – Discharges of Water to Water – General Rule

Except as expressly provided for by other rules in this Plan any discharge of water (excluding geothermal water), into water is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. There shall be no adverse effect on water quality of the receiving water body.
  2. Any adverse erosion effects occurring as a result of the discharge to be remedied as soon as practicable.
  3. There shall be no adverse effects from increased water levels downstream of the discharge point.
  4. The Waikato Regional Council shall be notified in writing of the discharge, its volume, contaminant concentrations and the water quality of the receiving water body 10 working days prior to the discharge commencing.

Exclusion to Rule 3.5.4.4
Discharges of geothermal water are excluded from this rule. The effects of these activities are managed by the rules in Chapter 7 of this Plan. 

3.5.4.5 Discretionary Activity Rule – Discharges – General Rule

Any discharge of a contaminant into water, or onto or into land, in circumstances which may result in that contaminant (or any other contaminant emanating as a result of natural processes from that contaminant) entering water, that is not specifically provided for by any rule, or does not meet the conditions of a permitted or a controlled activity rule in this Plan, is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).


Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this Rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.2 of this Plan. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in the policies in Section 3.5.3 of this Plan.

3.5.4.6 Non-Complying Activity Rule – Discharges into other Water Bodies

The discharge of contaminants (not including stormwater or contaminants associated with the take and use of geothermal water), into Natural State Water Bodies or wetlands1 that are areas of significant indigenous vegetation and/or significant habitats of indigenous fauna or cave entrances or lakes (excluding artificial lakes and Lake Rotoaira) is a non-complying activity (requiring resource consent).

Exclusion to Rule 3.5.4.6:
Discharges of geothermal water are excluded from this rule. The effects of these activities are managed by the rules in Chapter 7 of this Plan.


Advisory Notes:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this Rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.2 of this Plan. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in the policies of Section 3.5.3 of this Plan.

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 3.5.4.1 to 3.5.4.6
The methods in this section apply across the whole chapter. The non-regulatory methods have been focused on supporting activities permitted as a consequence of Policy 1 and ensuring that while these activities have been enabled, their potential adverse effects are still adequately managed. For instance, Method 3.5.4.1 uses environmental education to promote the reuse and recycling of liquid effluents and wastes. Irrigation of effluent onto land, where appropriate, achieves this as well as meeting cultural and spiritual objections concerning effluent disposal to water. Likewise, Method 3.5.4.2 recognises that improved treatment technology is an important area that needs further research. This recognises concern that pond and barrier ditch systems may not be sustainable in certain parts of the Waikato Region owing to the intensity of agriculture and associated discharges. Method 3.5.4.3 acknowledges that enforcement will continue to be an option for Waikato Regional Council when significant adverse effects occur as a result of discharges.

Rule 3.5.4.4 and Rule 3.5.4.5 are general rules that apply to all discharges not otherwise enabled by this Plan. They provide certainty and clarity for resource users. Rule 3.5.4.4 implements Policy 1 by enabling discharges of water into water where the discharge will have no adverse effects. These discharges currently require resource consent under the presumptions of the RMA. The intent of this rule is that such discharges will be permitted where there is no increase in any parameters (e.g. temperature and contaminant load) of water quality in the receiving environment. The Rule does not enable discharges that will adversely change the composition of water and, therefore, have an adverse effect on water quality. The kinds of discharges to be enabled by this Rule would include discharges of diverted ground water from dewatering operations. The condition requiring that Waikato Regional Council be notified is essential to give the community a chance to ensure that the discharge can really comply with the Rule.

Rule 3.5.4.6 recognises the high values of our natural state areas and the scarcity and fragile nature of our lake, wetland, and cave systems, and regulates discharges of contaminants to them. Discharges in these environments could have significant irreversible adverse effects. The non-complying status of this Rule sends the signal that these activities should be discouraged but also allows opportunity for consent to be granted in cases where the effects of the activity can be shown to be minor and where granting a consent is not contrary to the objectives and policies of the Plan.

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