Dairying and Clean Streams Accord

The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord has been replaced by The Sustainable Dairy Water Accord in December 2012.

The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord was an agreement to improve the environmental performance of dairying with the aim of producing 'clean healthy streams in dairying areas'.

The accord was between Fonterra Co-operative Group, Regional Councils and Unitary Authorities, the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The goal being to have water that is suitable, where appropriate, for fish, stock water (supply) and swimming with regional councils defining the relevant areas.

Adhering to the Accord is not only likely to protect water quality and freshwater life into the future, but also help you meet market demands and enhance your farm and stock management,. There are many good examples in Tasman and nationwide where profitable farming businesses have adopted good environmental management. Many of these farmers say that managing waterways has benefited their farms by:

  • Reducing stock losses
  • Reducing bank erosion
  • Conserving soil
  • Better farm management
  • Improving stock health
  • Improving the way the farm looks.

Waterways That Are Covered By the Accord

The Accord covers all rivers, streams, creeks, springs, drains, ponds, wetlands, swamps and estuaries that permanently hold water and flow through or border your property. In the Tasman District many drains are modified streams (ie streams that have been excavated or straightened). These waterways are to be considered as streams for the purposes of the Accord provided they are deeper than a 'red band' (300mm) and wider than a stride (1m) and permanently flowing.

There are five priorities for action identified in the Accord to reduce the impact of dairying on streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands:

Preventing Stock Access to Waterways

By 2007 dairy cattle are excluded from 50% of streams and rivers and 90% by 2012. Dairy cattle are excluded from 100% of estuaries and lakes by 2007.
Cattle in streams can cause bank erosion and fine sediment discharge to waterways as well as disturbing in-stream life and contamination from defecation. All of these factors are well known to reduce the life-supporting capacity and biodiversity of streams. In most cases, fencing is the only practical method of excluding stock access to waterbodies. There may be circumstances when light grazing on an infrequent basis achieves positive environmental outcomes and controls pest plants.

Protecting Wetlands

50% of regionally significant wetlands to be fenced to prevent stock access by 2009, 90% by 2012.
The Accord acknowledges that over 90% of lowland wetlands in Tasman District have been drained and that natural water regimes of wetlands need to be protected for reasons of filtering contaminants from the land, reducing the peak flood flow and enhancing low flows and protecting or enhancing biodiversity.

Stock Crossings Bridged or Culverted

By 2007 - 50% of regular crossing points have bridges or culverts, 90% by 2012.
Because cows are 50 times more likely to defecate during a stream crossing than elsewhere on the farm race, stock crossings are a significant potential source of stream contamination.

Effective Management of Farm Dairy Effluent

100% of farm dairy effluent discharges to comply with resource consents and regional plans immediately.
The adverse effects of dairy effluent in streams can be significant. The strength of effluent from one cow is equivalent to approximately 14 humans. Farm managers not only need to consider day-to-day performance of their effluent treatment and disposal system but also what contingency exists in wet weather, if a pump fails or other intermittent event.

Good Nutrient Management

100% of dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007.
The purpose of the nutrient budget is to identify where fertiliser use and effluent spreading is increasing the risk of nutrients being lost to ground water and surface water.

How Priorities Are Set

In setting priorities within each target in this plan, farms will be considered of higher priority if they:

  • Are in catchments where Water Conservation Orders apply (Motueka and Buller catchments)
  • Have high potential to affect public water supply, recreational water quality or shellfish gathering waters
  • Have streams that contain sensitive native fauna or flora

Monitoring and Reporting on Targets

Tasman District Council will continue to monitor water quality and stream health in rivers around the region and report regularly. This will include aerial surveillance, to identify and assess effects of stock in and around all bodies of water. Tasman District Council will also inspect effluent treatment systems to identify potential performance problems.

Representatives of Tasman District Council and Fonterra will meet at least annually to evaluate the effectiveness of this Regional Action Plan in achieving the overall objective of the Accord (ie 'clean healthy water in dairying areas') and to ensure that it reflects community expectations. The Action Plan may need to be modified or investigations identified in the implementation actions may lead to the development of further actions.

Progress toward achieving the regional performance targets relies upon the actions of individual suppliers. It is therefore vital that the farmers are aware of the Regional Action Plan and understand the potential implications on their farming practice. For this reason, Tasman District Council and Fonterra will jointly communicate the local performance targets and implementation actions contained in this plan to suppliers and groups representing dairy farmer interests (eg Federated Farmers).

Further Information