The Government is ramping up the pressure on farmers to exclude all stock from waterways.
Under the Clean Water initiative, released for public consultation last month, dairy cattle (on milking platforms) and pigs must be excluded from lakes, rivers and streams over one-metre wide, from July 1 this year.
The deadline on steeper land for dairy support, beef and deer is July 2022.
The exclusion requirements will apply to the bed and banks of lakes and natural wetlands and rivers, streams and permanently-flowing streams and drains.
Landowners who fail to meet the requirement could face a $2000 fine.
The measures are aimed at making 90 per cent of NZ rivers and lakes “swimmable” by 2040. Swimmable water will now be allowed to have up to 540 E. coli bacteria per 100ml, up from 260.
Despite being criticised that the Government has lowered the standards to reach the targets, Environment Minister Nick Smith says the 540 figure is based on World Health Organisation standards and the best water quality science available.
“We’ve proposed new requirements and for many waterways, this will have an immediate benefit,” Dr Smith says.
The Government has committed $100 million over the next 10 years to clean up NZ’s waterways.
Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen says the measures are all doable, if everyone plays their part.
“Farmers have been encouraged by the results they’ve seen in their own catchments, from their own efforts,” he says. “Now we need better science and monitoring processes to really nail what we need to work on, where we do it and how.”
Beef & Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor says he is pleased the government is adopting a catchment approach.
“We have consistently argued that taking a catchment and sub-catchment approach is the key to tackling freshwater management issues, and it is great to see this recognised,” Mr McIvor says. “The Government expects the total cost of stock exclusion (including water reticulation) to be $367 million across the beef, dairy, deer and pig industries over the next 13 years. This is a significant cost and so we will be advocating that options for stock exclusion need to be flexible enough to allow the outcome of exclusion to be met in the most cost-efficient way for our farmers.”
Regional councils will be required to monitor streams and waterways for bug and insect life as part of the assessment of ecosystem health.
Currently, 72 per cent of NZ’s waterways are swimmable.
Submissions on the Clean Water initiative close on Friday, April 28.