Plea to preserve “paradise”

Extract from Plea to preserve ‘paradise’
By MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD – The Timaru Herald
A Twizel family fears an irrigation proposal will spoil their “untouched paradise”.

The Blue family have opposed neighbouring Southdown Holdings Ltd to take water from the upper Waitaki catchment, namely Lake Ohau , expressing concerns about the scheme’s effects on the surrounding environment.

Donald Blue, Marylou Blue, Jennifer Howey, Susan Simpson and Margaret Blue, spoke to the submission.

The submission, more than 30 pages long, included photographs and poetry, as well as recollections of family holidays in the area.

“The family members of our Blue Family Trust regard with deep respect and true affection and love our property on the edge of Lake Ohau. We ask you to keep it this way,” Marylou Blue said.

She said although Southdown Holdings Ltd submission was only a very small part of the irrigation scheme, Lake Ohau was “one of the last untouched, natural and pristine lakes in the area”.

Mrs Blue said they were worried about the risk of contamination to the lake.

“The irrigation systems have the ability to be used to include fertiliser and effluent,” she said.

“Any back flow of this into the lake, even accidental, would be unacceptable and we recommend a condition excluding the use of fertiliser, herbicides, pesticides or effluent within the system.

“One-way valves are renowned for failure and require regular servicing, still with a risk of backflow, and are not a sufficient guarantee.”

from Timaru Herald Homepage

Concern over Upper Waitaki dairy plans
By MATHEW LITTLEWOOD – The Timaru Herald
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2009

Approval is being sought for a massive expansion in dairying in the Upper Waitaki involving up to 8000 hectares and 17,000 cows.

The resource consent applications of dairy farming companies Williamson Holdings, Southdown Holdings and Five Rivers with Environment Canterbury were publicly notified at the weekend.

Should the applications be accepted, the companies will collectively install more than a dozen free-standing dairy farms with about 17,000 cows.

According to its consent application, Five Rivers hopes to convert about 3800ha near Ohau Downs into dairy farming.

The company will establish seven stand-alone dairy farms, which will house the cows up to 300 days of the year.

It estimates a total of more than 54,000 litres of dairy effluent will be discharged daily. It proposes to mitigate any harm to water quality through an extensive management plan, including storage ponds.

Southdown Holdings has already lodged consent applications to take water to irrigate Glen Eyre Downs as part of the Upper Waitaki Consent processes and plans to establish six separate stand-alone dairy farms over more than 2100ha.

The farms will be able to hold up to 7000 cows in total, leading to a possible daily discharge of more than 93,000 litres of effluent.

The Glen Eyre Downs site is also home to a 400ha Department of Conservation reserve, which acts as a wetland habitat for black stilts, while three watercourses cross the property.

The consent application noted that Southdown Holdings had done significant work in protecting the environment, removing millions of wilding pines in the last two years.

Agricultural research scientist and Aoraki Conservation board member Dr John Keoghan said he was concerned by the developments.

“These areas are very fragile,” he said.

“The depleted Mackenzie soils have high soluble aluminium levels, and these are intensive operations above and beyond anything that has been done before in the region.

“I would like to know how much actual field research, as opposed to modelling, has been done on the effects such intensified farming would have on the region.”

Dr Keoghan said that, although he had no problem with dryland farming practices in the region, he was wary at the move towards dairying.

“Even before you get to the issue of nitrate leaching, there are concerns about the visual pollution as well. This can’t be overestimated. One of the appeals of the basin is its tawny tussocks and unique dryland qualities.”

Should Williamson Holdings’ consent application to establish a dairy farm at Killermont Station be accepted, it would cover more than 3600ha and have a maximum of 3850 cows.

In its consent application, the company said it was unlikely that leaching or seepage from irrigation would be excessive.

“Given the rate at which soil is lost from the plains area in the absence of a vegetation cover, this is a positive ecological outcome.

“The alternative to irrigation is to leave the land as it is and continue to graze or crop it in the absence of additional water. The current status of the land is unproductive.”

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