There are approximately 950 dairy farms in Northland creating over 14 thousand cubic metres of farm dairy effluent (FDE) from dairies and feedpads every day.

This effluent can be applied to land, or can be treated to remove contaminants and then discharged to water. It is illegal to discharge untreated FDE to water or onto or into land in any way that is likely to contaminate water.

The Regional Water and Soil Plan (RWSP) for Northland has rules that control the disposal of FDE. The disposal of FDE to land, subject to conditions, is a ‘permitted' activity and farms that use this method are termed ‘non-consented' farms.

The disposal of treated FDE to water is a ‘discretionary' activity, which means that it requires resource consent. Farms which operate under resource consent are called ‘consented' farms. The discharge of treated animal effluent to certain important water bodies in Northland is not allowed. These water bodies are listed in the RWSP. For a copy of the RWSP go to