Environment Canterbury reported today that it had completed an investigation into cows that were recently photographed grazing in Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere.
RMA Monitoring and Compliance Manager Brett Aldridge said while the discovery was disappointing and stock in waterways is an issue Environment Canterbury always takes very seriously, it was pleasing that the landowner had co-operated fully.
“The photos we received weren’t sufficient to prove discharge and damage to the lake bed in the form of pugging or change of water clarity and consequently breach of the rules,” Mr Aldridge said. “The property in question has now been destocked pending sale. We will meet the new owner to make sure they are fully aware of their obligations regarding stock access to water.”
Brett Aldridge said Environment Canterbury would be working with other landowners in the area to make sure stock are away from water and that the landowners understood the implications of not meeting their obligations.
“Stock in waterways is something we’re very serious about and Te Waihora is a particularly sensitive environment in this regard,” Mr Aldridge said. “There are strong rules in our regional plan prohibiting stock in natural waterways if there are any significant adverse effects, and from June this year all intensively farmed stock will be prohibited from natural waterways.
“While our preference is to work with landowners, infringement fines for discharges to water are $750 and prosecutions can attract significantly higher penalties. We will have no hesitation in using these tools to provide deterrence to landowners where necessary and appropriate.
“However, we can’t be everywhere. We also need members of the community to be our eyes and ears on the ground. We always welcome any information that will point us towards specific pressure points and landowners who might need help in meeting their obligations.
“The aim of the regulations is to safeguard and improve water quality, so compliance is extremely important,” Mr Aldridge said. “Environment Canterbury is very proactive about this. Over the next five years, for example, we will be working with Ngāi Tahu, DoC, lake edge landowners, Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Council to make sure all stock around the lake is managed to reduce the impact on wetlands and the lake, and meet all compliance requirements.”