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Keeping stock off stopbanks prevents damage

Keeping stock off stopbanks prevents damage

24 July 2014

As the winter weather and heavy rain sets in, Bay of Plenty Regional Council again reminds rural communities to keep grazing stock off stopbanks to ensure the stopbanks are best able to perform their function.

The main purpose of stopbanks is to provide essential flood protection for thousands throughout the region and while they can be grazed by cattle at some times of the year, especially when the ground is firmer in summer, cattle grazing should be kept to a minimum in the winter months.

Regional Council’s Principal Works Engineer, Tony Dunlop explained that the wetter soil conditions combined with heavy animals can readily weaken and damage the region’s stopbanks.

“During winter it really is just common sense to keep cattle off the stopbanks as much as possible to prevent the pugging and damage that they can cause. We appreciate that most farmers and lifestyle block owners know this and take care of our community assets.

“Good grass cover on a stopbank is like a ‘skin’ that helps provide protection to the soil structure underneath. So pugging is not just a surface problem, it can cause much greater issues.

“So it is a timely reminder that we will be keeping an eye on our stopbanks to ensure that farmers are doing the right thing – there is too much at stake to risk flood damage to the properties and surrounding communities,” Mr Dunlop said.

Mr Dunlop said that it is an offence to damage these assets and landowners can be held liable for any damage.

“The stopbanks are a Regional Council asset and are designed to protect property, production and of course the safety of everyone in our community. So we need to reinforce the importance of looking after our stopbanks to anyone who may be grazing stock,” he said.

Stopbanks are a primary flood protection tool throughout the region. Regional Council manages and maintains almost 352km of stopbanks, protecting many millions of dollars’ worth of land and property.

Note: ‘Stockbanks’ is a very common public misnomer for stopbanks. Using the correct term may help remind people of the primary function of these valuable assets (to provide flood protection rather than to graze stock).

ENDS

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