Regional rules

All farms must comply with the permitted activity criteria for animal effluent disposal. The permitted activity rules are covered in Section 16 and 17 of the Regional Water and Soil Plan for Northland and/or C.6.3 of the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland. 

Rules 16 and 17 of the water and soil plan apply to the discharge and disposal / management of animal effluent and farm waste water from:

  • Dairies and adjacent entrance and exit races;
  • Dairy yards;
  • Stock holding yards;
  • Feed pads;
  • Stand-off pads;
  • Loafing pads;
  • Wintering barns;
  • Piggeries;
  • Poultry farms;
  • Stock underpasses;
  • Sale yards; and
  • Transit races (if used for stand-off and the like).

Rule 17 also covers the making of silage, disposal of dead stock and the disposal of produce.

Key points: Permitted Activity Rule 16.1 (land application)

There must be no discharge to surface water:

  • Directly;
  • Via overland flow;
  • Via any tile, mole or other subsurface drain; and
  • No discharge directly to groundwater.

Effluent must not be discharged to land within a distance of:

  • 20 metres of any waterway;
  • 20 metres of any drain that contains water or 10 metres of any dry drain;
  • 20 metres of any water supply bore;
  • 20 metres from neighbouring properties without the property owner's written permission; and
  • 50 metres of any occupied dwelling.

These are the "Setbacks":

  • Contingency measures must be in place to ensure no rules are broken due to equipment failure and when ground and/or weather conditions are unsuitable for application.
  • Any effluent storage or effluent treatment facilities must be sealed or lined with low permeability material to ensure there is no more than minor groundwater contamination through seepage.
  • There must be no ponding on the land surface for more than three hours after application.

Effluent must be applied in a manner that:

  • Evenly distributes the effluent;
  • Does not exceed the soil's ability to assimilate the effluent;
  • Minimises overland flow; and
  • Does not cause overland flow into setback distances, watercourses etc.

Discretionary activities:

Any system that cannot consistently meet the above criteria and is not a "Prohibited Activity" is deemed a "Discretionary Activity" and requires resource consent.

Prohibited activities:

  • There shall be no discharge of untreated effluent to water; and
  • The discharge of treated animal effluent into any dune lake or any watercourse flowing into any dune lake listed in Schedule E of the water and soil plan or any river, section of river or lake deemed to have outstanding value is a Prohibited Activity.

Find Rule 16 in Part V - Rules of the Regional Water and Soil Plan

Compliance with the permitted activity rules can be achieved when:

  • There is adequate contingency storage;
  • Ponds are at or near empty prior to winter;
  • Irrigators are well maintained and managed; and
  • Effluent is applied evenly to land when conditions are suitable.

Section 15(1)(b) of the Resource Management Act 1991 also states that:
No person may discharge any contaminant to water or to land in circumstances which may result in that contaminant entering water; unless the discharge is expressly allowed by a national environmental standard, resource consent or regional rule.

Resource Consent:

Any system which may discharge treated effluent to water requires application for resource consent. Any system which cannot consistently comply with the permitted activity criteria (Rule 16.1) also requires application for resource consent.

Any consent to discharge treated effluent to water is issued with specific conditions relating to:

  • Cow numbers and milking regimes;
  • Stormwater control;
  • Adequacy of treatment;
  • System maintenance and management; and
  • The quality of any discharge and the effects of the discharge on the receiving waters.

Find an overview of council's farm dairy effluent monitoring programme.

Need a resource consent?

If you think you may require resource consent, please contact a member of the council's farm dairy effluent team for advice on:
0800 002 004