Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity

Media Statement

3 April 2016 – for immediate release

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity

IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed, as recent assertions by Alison Dewes are not scientifically sound.

The industry bodies have joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway – a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means, the increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen contamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected well-heads. ” says Mr Curtis.

Federated Farmers also takes exception with the focus on dairy farming.

“Dairy farmers are too often used as an easy target when the reality is that this in an industry that takes environmental performance very seriously. Dairy farmers have invested $1 billion in the past five years on environmental initiatives such as stock exclusion, riparian planting land and developing wetlands. Farmers are custodians of the environment and they will continue to invest in actions that make a difference to managing their farms’ environmental impact,” says Federated Farmers Water Spokesperson Chris Allen.

Lincoln University has established a series of monitoring wells at three locations across the Lincoln University Dairy Farm. These wells enable monitoring of the shallow aquifer (6-12 metres below ground) as the groundwater moves underneath the farm. While there are as yet no published results available, Ron Pellow, Executive Director - South Island Dairying Development Centre says initial comparisons of changes from the upper to lower wells confirm the soil in an irrigated, well managed dairy farm is an effective filter of material that may have been deposited on the surface from grazing animals or transient bird life.

Issues from pathogens generally arise through the following pathways.

1. Septic tanks that have failed that are located up gradient of a domestic water supply.

Septic tanks need to be regularly maintained. When they fail domestic waste water can directly leak into groundwater. For older properties it is common for a shallow well to provide the domestic water supply. If a failing septic tank is located up gradient of this well there is an increased chance of contamination.

2. Livestock effluent that is injected into an irrigation system without backflow prevention.

If the water supply used for effluent irrigation (from a well or surface water take) is not protected through a backflow prevention system (a backflow prevention system stops any water taken returning to the aquifer or surface water body and is standard for all new irrigation systems) it is possible for contaminated water to ‘backflow’ into the source.

3. Poor well-head protection.

It is possible for water to move down the side of a well case, or if left open directly into it. This provides a direct pathway for contaminants to enter into an aquifer. Sealing the well-head (both the bore itself and around it) solve this issue. Concreting (sealing) around the top of wells is now a requirement in Canterbury. Keeping livestock away from well-heads is also advisable.

“A good example of this issue is the Dunsandel domestic water supply” says IrrigationNZ’s Andrew Curtis. “For a number of years high levels of e.coli were frequently detected in the drinking water and irrigation was blamed for this. However, post the district council concreting around the water supply well and alterations being made to other nearby wells to ensure they were suitably protected, the issue seems to have largely disappeared. This points to a point-source discharge being the issue, not irrigation.”


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 




REINZ May Data: House Price Rises Continue; Auckland Hits New Record Median Price Again

Median prices for residential property across New Zealand increased by 32.3% from $620,000 in May 2020 to $820,000 in May 2021, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), source of the most complete and accurate real estate data in New Zealand... More>>

Energy Resources Aotearoa: Doubling Of Coal Use Shows Need For Local Natural Gas

New figures showing a near doubling of coal-fired electricity generation highlight New Zealand’s energy shortage and the need for natural gas as a lower carbon alternative, according to Energy Resources Aotearoa... More>>


E Tu: ‘Sense Of Mourning’ As Norske Skog Mill Set To Close

Workers at Norske Skog’s Tasman Mill now know they’ll be losing their jobs in little over a month’s time.
On Wednesday afternoon, workers were told the mill will be stopping production from the end of June... More>>



Auction: 1.4 Million In Rare Vintage Watches, Gems, Jewels & Diamonds Go Under The Hammer At Webb’s

An auction event showcasing over 1.4 Million dollars in rare jewels, gems, diamonds and vintage watches is due to take place this Sunday by Auckland based auction house Webb’s... More>>

Catalist: NZ’s New SME Stock Exchange, Gets Licence To Go Public

New Zealand has a new stock exchange – designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to raise up to $20 million a year from the public.
Called Catalist, the exchange has already been successfully working the private investment sector.... More>>

E-Commerce: Over 40% Of Those Engaged In The Bitcoin Community Are Millennials

Bitcoin has emerged to be a popular topic among millennials with digital currency increasingly being viewed as a potential source of creating wealth through investments. The interest in bitcoin by millennials signals the role this age group plays in the possible realization of the digital currency’s mass adoption... More>>