Farmers reminded to keep stock off stopbanks
Thursday 14 June 2018, 9am
Gates closed at Moutoa and farmers reminded to keep stock off stopbanks
Horizons Regional Council has closed the Moutoa floodgates after the Manawatū River levels dropped significantly overnight.
Horizons group manager river management Ramon Strong says staff will remain on site until daylight.
“This is to ensure the gates have closed properly and that everything is as it should be. There were no other issues overnight and our staff will be out assessing river systems for the next few days.
“We will be checking to see how the channels and flood defences held up as well as looking to identify and prioritise any necessary repairs. Following that we hope to return to business as usual and would like to thank those in the community who have been staying tuned to updates and taking any necessary action.”
Mr Strong says the past few days have also been a reminder of the importance of keeping grazing stock off stopbanks to ensure they are best able to perform their function as an essential flood protection asset.
The reminder applies to both farmers and owners of lifestyle blocks as wetter soil conditions, combined with heavy animals or smaller animals that dig, can weaken the region’s stopbanks.
“While stopbanks can be grazed by cattle less than 18 months in age when the ground is firm in summer, grazing with cattle is not permitted under any circumstances between 15 June and 15 September.
“As wet weather sets in it’s really important stopbanks maintain enough grass to prevent scouring in a flood event like we’ve had this week. Farmers and landowners know this and in most cases are very cooperative,” says Mr Strong.
“We really appreciate the effort many farmers put in to control stock damage by grazing during the year. However it is the time of year again where stock needs to be grazed elsewhere to avoid any damage.”
Mr Strong says it is a statutory offence to damage the stopbanks and landowners can be held liable to pay for any resulting repairs.
“The stopbanks not only protect property and production worth millions of dollars, but they also ensure the safety of many in our community. Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link and all it takes is one breached section of stopbank to flood hundreds of hectares of farmland,” he says.
Stopbanks are a primary flood protection tool throughout the Region. Horizons manages and maintains almost 490km of stopbanks, protecting over 46,000 hectares of land.
A copy of the stopbank grazing guidelines pamphlet is available to view online at www.horizons.govt.nz with hardcopies available upon request.