Porpoise Bay is a series of classy beach breaks. Southland Regional Council has given consent for an industrial style dairy farm to be set up for the first time in Porpoise Bay. Aspects of the consents have been appealed by local residents citing a desire for better treatment of direct waste from what will be a large milking shed operation.
The most consistent of these beach breaks surround the delta sandbanks of Cooks Creek. The Cooks Creek waterways have the potential to be polluted directly from the proposed dairy farm. Not only that but the whole of Porpoise Bay could be damaged as a result of indirect pollution from untreated animal discharges soaking in to the ground and inevitably affecting the shoreline.
Dairy farming has boomed in New Zealand in recent years with huge economic benefits for those operating in the sector. Unfortunately there have been environmental costs to this expansion, mostly as a result of many farmers (with some exceptions, particularly in the organic sector) taking profits while not being required to eliminate the spread of pollution beyond their own farm gates.
Currently there are no incentives offered to ensure close management of animal discharges resulting from the large dairy herds that are common today, nor are any penalties rigorously enforced. There are also many unknown factors surrounding the effects of dairying based pollution on ground water that need to be examined and understood.
A problem of this dairy expansion is that many consenting authorities do not have adequate guidelines, plans or monitoring capabilities to control the management of dairy farm activities. Generally control of ‘on farm’ activities is left to the management team at the farm or to the industry body.
The Effluent Land Application Plan of the Southland Regional Council is especially out of date and appears not to cover the importance of water contact activities (in areas such as Porpoise Bay) of which surfing plays a big part.
This problem is prevalent in most Regional Councils in New Zealand with the exception of Taranaki Regional Council, which has been the only one to formally recognise the importance of surfbreaks in its regional plan.