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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 3.5 Discharges* » 3.5.5 Implementation Methods - Farm Effluent Discharges

3.5.5 Implementation Methods - Farm Effluent Discharges

3.5.5.1 Permitted Activity Rule – Discharge of Farm Animal Effluent onto Land

The discharge of contaminants onto land outside the Lake Taupo Catchment from the application of farm animal effluent, (excluding pig farm effluent), and the subsequent discharge of contaminants into air or water, is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. No discharge of effluent to water shall occur from any effluent holding facilities.
  2. Storage facilities and associated facilities shall be installed to ensure compliance with condition a).
  3. All effluent treatment or storage facilities (e.g. sumps or ponds) shall be sealed so as to restrict seepage of effluent. The permeability of the sealing layer shall not exceed 1x10-9 metres per second.
  4. The total effluent loading shall not exceed the limit as specified in Table 3-8, including any loading made under Rules 3.5.5.2 and 3.5.5.3, 3.5.6.2, 3.5.6.3 or 3.5.6.4.
  5. The maximum loading rate of effluent onto any part of the irrigated land shall not exceed 25 millimetres depth per application.
  6. Effluent shall not enter surface water by way of overland flow, or pond on the land surface following the application.
  7. Any discharge of contaminants into air arising from this activity shall comply with permitted activity conditions in Section 6.1.8 of this Plan.
  8. The discharger shall provide information to show how the requirements of conditions a) to g) are being met, if requested by the Waikato Regional Council.
  9. The discharge does not occur within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature*.
  10. Where fertiliser is applied onto the same land on which farm animal effluent has been disposed of in the preceding 12 months, the application must be in accordance with Rule 3.9.4.11.

Advisory Notes:

  • Dischargers should note that many territorial authorities have specific rules which set minimum separation distances between treatment or disposal systems, adjoining properties, roadways and houses.
  • In relation to sealing effluent treatment or storage facilities as referred to in condition c), the permeability requirement of 1x10-9 metres per second can generally be met through standard compaction procedures on soils with more than 8 percent clay. If the soil has less clay than this, special measures may be required (e.g. an artificial liner). Also, clays may not be suitable for storage facilities that are regularly emptied or are left dry for some time. Waikato Regional Council can provide advice on soil types and sealing requirements.
  • Effluent treatment and storage facilities should be constructed in accordance with the publication ‘Dairying and the Environment – Managing Farm Dairy Effluent’ (1996) by the Dairying and the Environment Committee. Copies of this guideline are available from the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, Private Bag 11029, Palmerston North.
  • With regard to the effluent application rate in condition d), the standard of 150 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year can be converted into a minimum irrigation area and a maximum depth of effluent that can be applied each year. To do this for farm dairy effluent the following factors must be known or estimated:
    1. The amount of nitrogen excreted by the cow – this can vary greatly (depending upon the composition of pasture, fertiliser use and animal management in the milking shed), but generally averages about 20 grams per cow per day.
    2. The volume of nitrogen excreted by the cow – this can vary greatly (depending upon the amount of water used for washing down the yard), but averages a volume of 50 litres per cow per day.
    3. The average lactation period – this is the average number of days that the cows are milked per season. It depends upon the potential of an area for dairy farming, and pasture management practices. A typical lactation period for cows in the Waikato Region is about 270 days, and can range from 190 days up to 300 days. It is important that each farmer consider their individual situation when estimating lactation period.
  • Using the average values as specified, 150 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year equated to both:
    1. a land area requirement of 360 square metres per cow (i.e. about one hectare per 27 cows)
    2. an annual effluent loading rate of 75 millimetres per year.
  • Discharges of contaminants into or onto land within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature are addressed by Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3 of this Plan. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • To comply with condition f) application rates need to be adjusted for soil and seasonal climatic conditions. Generally, ponding should not occur if the application depth requirements in condition e) are complied with and the instantaneous application rates (per second) are appropriate to these conditions. In practice, implementation of this condition will acknowledge that some minor ponding on the land, for short durations may occur where there are areas of soil compaction.

Table 37 Nitrogen Loading Rate Calculations For Grazed Pasture

Total N/cow/year =
=
20 g/cow/day x 270
5.4 kg
Nitrogen loading rate
Land area required/cow
=
=
=
=
150 kg N/ha/year
5.4/150
0.036 ha
360 m2
Nitrogen loading rate 
land area required/ 100 cows
=
=
=
150 kg N/ha/year
5.4 100/150
3.6 ha

Sources of Data/Assumptions (Dairy Farm Effluent Management, 1995. Waikato Regional Council)

  1. Total N/cow/day = 20 g
  2. Nitrogen loading rate = 150 kg N/ha/year.
  3. Typical lactation period = 270 days.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, Rule 3.5.5.2 is deemed to cover the periodic desludging of pond and barrier ditch systems and land application of sludge provided that the effluent application rate is less than 150 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year. Sludge can be applied to land at a higher rate than 150 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen but this would then be a discretionary activity subject to Rule 3.5.5.4.
  • Discharges of farm animal effluent within the Lake Taupo Catchment are to be managed by rules 3.10.5.1 to 3.10.5.12.

3.5.5.2 Permitted Activity Rule – Discharge of Feed Pad and Stand-Off Pad Effluent onto Land

The discharge of feed pad and stand-off pad effluent to land outside the Lake Taupo Catchment and the subsequent discharge of contaminants to air is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The pad shall be sealed, so as to restrict seepage of effluent. The permeability of the sealing layer for such treatment or storage facilities shall not exceed 1x10-9 metres per second.
  2. There shall be no run-off or discharge of pad effluent into surface water.
  3. Materials used to absorb pad effluent or the effluent itself when spread on land as a means of disposal shall not exceed the limit specified in Table 3-8 inclusive of any loading made under Rules 3.5.5.1, 3.5.5.3, 3.5.6.2, 3.5.6.3 and 3.5.6.4.The pad shall be located at least 20 metres from surface water.
  4. Any discharge of contaminants into air arising from this activity shall comply with permitted activity conditions in Section 6.1.8 of this Plan.
  5. The discharger shall provide information to show how the requirements of this rule are being met, if requested by the Waikato Regional Council.
  6. The discharge shall not occur within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature*.
  7. Where fertiliser is applied onto the same land on which farm animal effluent has been disposed of in the preceding 12 months, the application must be in accordance with Rule 3.9.4.11.

Advisory Notes:

  • Discharges of contaminants into or onto land within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature are addressed by Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3 of this Plan. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • It is considered good practice to locate these pads on firm dry land where there is no risk of run-off into surface water bodies.
  • In order to comply with condition b) it is likely that stand-off pads and feed pads will need to be located outside of the floodplain of any water body.
  • In relation to sealing feed pads and stand-off pads as referred to in condition a) the permeability requirement of 1x10-9 metres per second can generally be met through standard compaction procedures on soils with more than 8 percent clay. It the soil has less clay than this, special measures may be required (e.g. an artificial liner). Also, clays may not be suitable for storage facilities that are regularly emptied or are left dry for some time. Waikato Regional Council can provide advice on soil types and sealing requirements.
  • When siting feed pads it is recommended that farmers also check the requirements of the relevant District Plan which may control issues such as buffer distances from neighbouring properties.
  • Surface waters under condition b) include all road side drains.
  • Discharges of farm animal effluent within the Lake Taupo Catchment are to be managed by rules 3.10.5.1 to 3.10.5.12.

3.5.5.3 Controlled Activity Rule – Existing Discharge(s) of Effluent from Pig Farms onto Land

The discharge of contaminants from the application of pig farm effluent onto land outside the Lake Taupo Catchment, and the subsequent discharge of contaminants into air, where:

  1. The discharge(s) from the pig farms were lawfully established as at 1 May 2007
  2. The total effluent loading rate onto pasture shall not exceed the limit specified in Table 38including any loading made under Rules 3.5.5.1, 3.5.5.2, 3.5.6.2, 3.5.6.3 and 3.5.6.4, and
  3. the maximum loading rate of effluent onto any part of the irrigated land does not exceed 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per application, or
  4. the discharge does not occur within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature*

is a controlled activity (requiring resource consent) subject to the following standards and terms:

  1. No discharge of effluent to water shall occur from any effluent holding premises.
  2. Storage facilities and associated facilities shall be installed to ensure compliance with standard a).
  3. All effluent treatment or storage facilities (e.g. sumps or ponds) shall be sealed so as to restrict seepage of effluent. The permeability of the sealing layer for such treatment or storage facilities shall not exceed 1x10-9 metres per second.
  4. Effluent shall not enter surface water by overland flow, or pond on the land surface following the application.
  5. Any discharge of contaminants into air arising from this activity shall comply with permitted activity conditions in Section 6.1.8 of this Plan.
  6. Where fertiliser is applied onto the same land on which farm animal effluent has been disposed of in the preceding 12 months, the application must be in accordance with Rule 3.9.4.11.
  7. The activity shall have no verified complaint/s of objectionable odour or particulate matter that has resulted in enforcement action being taken against the discharger in the two years prior to the consent application.

Waikato Regional Council reserves control over the following matters:

  1. The means of controlling any elevation in ground water nitrogen concentrations.
  2. The standard of sealing storage facilities.
  3. The means of controlling objectionable odour.
  4. The means of avoiding spraydrift.
  5. Effluent loading rates.
  6. The contingency measures to ensure that there are no adverse effects on surface water in the event of mechanical failure or prolonged wet weather.
  7. Provisions to monitor compliance with the consent conditions and the effects on the environment.
  8. Location of discharge to land.

Advisory Notes:

  • Discharges of contaminants into or onto land within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature are addressed by Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3 of this Plan. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • In relation to sealing effluent treatment or storage facilities as referred to in condition c), the permeability requirement of 1x10-9 metres per second can generally be met through standard compaction procedures on soils with more than 8 percent clay. If the soil has less clay than this, special measures may be required (e.g. an artificial liner). Also, clays may not be suitable for storage facilities that are regularly emptied or are left dry for some time. Waikato Regional Council can provide advice on soil types and sealing requirements.
  • Effluent treatment and storage facilities should be constructed in accordance with the publication ‘Dairying and the Environment – Managing Farm Dairy Effluent’ (1996) by the Dairying and the Environment Committee. Copies of this guideline are available from the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, Private Bag 11029, Palmerston North.
  • Discharges of farm animal effluent within the Lake Taupo Catchment are to be managed by rules 3.10.5.1 to 3.10.5.12.

3.5.5.4 Discretionary Activity Rule – Discharge of Effluent onto Land

The discharge of farm animal effluent onto land outside the Lake Taupo Catchment, and the subsequent discharge of contaminants to air, in a manner which does not comply with Rules 3.5.5.1, 3.5.5.2 and 3.5.5.3 is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Exclusion to Rule 3.5.5.4:
Discharges of contaminants within 20 metres of Significant Geothermal Features* are excluded from this rule. The effects of these activities are managed by Rules 7.6.6.1 to 7.6.6.3 of this Plan.

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 of Chapter 3.5 of this Plan.
  • Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • Discharges of farm animal effluent within the Lake Taupo Catchment are to be managed by rules 3.10.5.1 to 3.10.5.12.

3.5.5.5 Discretionary Activity Rule – Discharge of Treated Effluent to Water

Except as provided for by Rule 3.5.4.6 the discharge of treated farm animal effluent outside the Lake Taupo Catchment into surface water 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 of Section 3.5.3 of this Plan.
    • Discharges of farm animal effluent within the Lake Taupo Catchment are to be managed by rules 3.10.5.1 to 3.10.5.12.

3.5.5.6 Prohibited Activity Rule – Discharge of Untreated Animal Effluent

The discharge of untreated farm animal effluent into water is a prohibited activity.

 

Table 38 Nitrogen Loading Rates for Various Land Users

Land Use Type Max. N Loading Rate (kg N/ha of spayed land/year)
Grazed pasture 150
Cut and carry grass (hay, silage) 600
Pinus radiate 150
Eucalyptus (coppice) 250
Maize silage 200


Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 3.5.5.1 to 3.5.5.6

The permitted activity rules in this Chapter enable a range of discharges of farm animal effluents onto land in accordance with Policies 1, 2 and 3. This effluent has value as a fertiliser substitute, and irrigating it onto land can reduce the amount of other fertiliser that is needed. The advisory notes make it clear that when determining fertiliser requirements in addition to the effluent, care should be taken with nitrogen management (refer to Section 3.9.7) because applying high rates of nitrogen to land (through effluent and/or fertiliser) may cause water quality problems by increasing nitrate contamination of ground water. Council acknowledges that the application of farm animal effluent onto soil may contribute to minor increases in the concentration of contaminants leached from the soil to groundwater, and that discharge is allowed under this rule. However, it is Council’s expectation that effluent irrigation will be undertaken in a way that most effectively allows effluent contained contaminants to be captured and treated by the biologically active topsoil, taking into account the capacity of the soil to absorb the effluent and the potential for preferential flow. Separate methods are provided in Section 3.10 to manage discharges of animal effluent within the Taupo Catchment.

Rule 3.5.5.2 provides for treatment and reuse of effluent from feed pads and standoff pads back onto land. Stand-off pads are temporary holding areas used to prevent the damage of paddocks during wet periods. Feed pads and stand-off pads are being used more in the Region as a tool for stock and pasture management. This is encouraged as it prevents paddocks and soils from being damaged by pugging during wet conditions. This Rule provides direction for management of wastes and enables this activity to occur subject to some basic environment precautions.

Rule 3.5.5.3 provides for discharge of treated pig farm effluent into or onto land where the discharge(s) from pig farm were lawfully established as at 1 May 2007. The risk of objectionable odour from buildings containing pigs or from pond effluent is greater than for any other type of animal effluent, but as odour intensity and dispersion is known for existing farms, adequate conditions can be placed on consents.

Rules 3.5.5.4 and 3.5.5.5 apply to all other farm animal effluent discharges outside the Lake Taupo Catchment that do not meet the standards and conditions set out in Rules 3.5.5.1, 3.5.5.2 and 3.5.5.3. This allows appropriate conditions to be set on any consent granted on a casebycase basis. Conditions requiring mitigation measures may be imposed on controlled and discretionary activity consents. When considering options for mitigation measures, Waikato Regional Council will have regard to the ease of practical integration into farm management systems and the effectiveness of the measure to mitigate the anticipated adverse environmental effects. Options for mitigation of adverse environmental effects may include:

  1. The fencing of water courses to prevent stock access.
  2. The planting of streamside areas.
  3. The creation of sediment traps in small drains.
  4. Vegetation management in drains.
  5. The protection of wetlands.

Rule 3.5.5.6 prohibits all discharges of untreated farm dairy effluent into water due to the significant adverse effects such discharges have on water bodies. This sends a clear signal that the discharge of raw effluent to water is not acceptable in the Region.

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