Taking steps towards 2020 | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Taking steps towards 2020

April 2020 is now only 15 months away. That's when the Otago Regional Council (ORC) Water Plan’s remaining deadlines start to bite.
Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The plan’s purpose is the sustainable management of Otago’s freshwater resources – lakes, rivers, groundwater and wetlands.

The plan sets out discharge thresholds for nitrogen, phosphorous and E. coli that can come off a property before entering a waterway. You know your property, so you are charged with deciding how to manage these discharges before the 1 April 2020 deadline.

When it comes to the discharge of sediment into waterways, rules are in place now. Essentially, sediment discharge is allowed, as long it does not create a dirty plume in the river or leave any noticeable increase in local sedimentation.

If you can’t meet the thresholds in time, you can apply for a short-term resource consent while you make the changes necessary to meet the thresholds.

Where do you start?

Develop a Farm Environment Plan

Step one is a Farm Environment Plan that documents how you plan to manage your farm’s land and natural resources.

B+LNZ offer Land and Environment Plan workshops and free toolkit resources to help you document your plan. This includes a recorded assessment of your farm’s environmental risks and land management opportunities, as well as a stocktake of land, soil and water resources.

The result is a personalised, written plan that identifies potential actions to be undertaken, where they might be targeted, and when they will be implemented.

Complete a nutrient budget

Step two is a basic nutrient budget to establish where your property is at right now.

Contact a Certified Nutrient Management Advisor to carry out an independent and robust budget. Once completed, ask the advisor to explain the budget to you. Specifically:

  1. What are your risks?
  2. What are the options for managing those risks?
  3. Clarify your 2020 nitrogen discharge to water limit. If your nutrient budget shows you exceed this limit, what are your options to reduce it?

Important: At every step, diary the actions you take.

Join or form a catchment group

The third step that will help you hit 2020 in a better position is joining or forming a catchment group. By working with neighbours, your individual efforts will be exponentially more effective.

You can set goals for your catchment, and then link your on-farm actions to catchment priorities.

Catchment groups also give farmers a positive voice in their local communities. You can tell your wider community about your progress and work towards shared goals.

More information

The Otago Regional Council website has a “Good Water in Otago” page, which is home to excellent information, including factsheets, details on water testing and a list of Certified Nutrient Management Advisors. There is also a link to “A guide to water quality rules” booklet, which provides detail in a user-friendly manner.

Visit: https://www.orc.govt.nz/managing-our-environment/water/good-water-in-otago

Sediment and discharge rules – in effect now

Land disturbance sediment

When disturbing land you must put in place some measures to control sediment runoff into waterways. Having no effective sediment control measures is a prohibited activity.

Sediment runoff

Sediment can enter a waterway as a permitted activity so long as the following conditions are met. Sediment runoff from land or any drain (open or tile) leading into waterways, including irrigation races and coastal water, must not result in:
- A conspicuous change in colour or visual clarity, or a plume.
- A noticeable increase in local sedimentation.

If you cannot meet these permitted activity conditions, you need to apply for a resource consent.

Effluent discharge, silage and compost leachate

The Plan prohibits the discharge of effluent (from any animal waste system) and silage and compost leachate to:
• Any lake, river, or Regionally Significant Wetland, including their bed, or a drain or water race that goes to these waterways or the coast.
• Saturated land.
• Land if it results in ponding.
• Land, if it results in an overland flow to waterways or the coast, or to a drain (open or mole and tile drain system) or water race that goes to waterways.
• Any bore or soak hole.
• Land within 50 metres of any lake, river, or Regionally Significant Wetland, bore or soak hole.

Stock access to waterways

Stock can only have access to streams, rivers, lakes and Regionally Significant Wetlands (waterways) as long as they don’t damage the banks and bed of the waterway or degrade the quality of the water. Stock must not:
• Cause slumping, pugging or erosion.
• Create a visual change in the colour or clarity of the water.
• Damage plants and animals in a Regionally Significant Wetland.

You must not:
• Feed out to stock on the bed of the waterway or wetland.

Discharge thresholds – apply from 1 April 2020

When it comes to discharge thresholds, Otago is split into two catchment areas, based on the flow of waterways. Area 1 is shown in blue and its waterways are generally of a higher flow and discharge to open coastline where nutrients are quickly dispersed. However if streams are slow flowing or discharge to lakes or estuaries, where nutrients are likely to accumulate, then in-stream concentrations become much more important to control. These areas are shown in pink, Area 2.

Download maps outlining discharge threshold areas (PDF, 18.8MB)

Catchments Nitrate-nitrite nitrogen (NNN) Dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) Ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N) E. coli
Area 1 3.6mg/l 0.045mg/l 0.2mg/l 550cfu/100m
Area 2 1.0mg/l 0.035mg/l 0.2mg/l 550cfu/100m

*cfu = colony-forming units

Nitrogen leaching rules – apply from 1 April 2020

Catchments Per year limit
Large lake catchments 15kgN/ha
Sensitive aquifers 20kgN/ha
Rest of Otago 30kgN/ha