Horizons, the Regional Council for Manawatu-Whanganui, completed the development of the Horizons One Plan in 2014 after significant work over a ten year period.
It was the first region to go through a community limit-setting process on a large scale and it was also the first time limits on dairy farming were put in place across an entire region. The Regional Council has also made improvements in other sources of bacteria, sediment and nutrients such as industry, cities and other farming industries.
In 2010 members of the Manawatu River Leaders Forum (including Fonterra) signed an Accord to take action to improve the state of the Manawatu River.
The leaders identified six key priorities for the river: sediment; nutrients and bacteria from point source discharges; nutrients and pathogens from agricultural run-off; physical changes from flood control work; protection of native fish and birds; and management of water allocation.
From these six priorities a five-year Action Plan of over 130 tasks was developed and in June 2011 the leaders launched their Action Plan to the community. In March 2016 an updated Action Plan was launched for the 2016-2021 period.
Overall water quality in the headwaters of most rivers and streams is good and has improved significantly. This is particularly the case around the region’s favourite swimming holes that are in dairy farming areas. However, a range of factors causes the quality to decline as it journeys towards the coast.
Out of all the sites being monitored in the Horizons region not one that is used for dairy has recorded a reduction in water quality limits.
Manawatu Fonterra farmers’ progress towards some of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord targets.
of significant waterways are fenced and have dairy excluded
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord defines regular crossing points as “any permanently flowing rivers, streams, drains and springs, more than a metre wide and 30cm deep.”
of regular stock crossing points have bridges or culverts
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord defines regular crossing points as “those used more than once a month to access the milking shed.”
of farms have collected nutrient management data
Catchment call out
As part of the Manawatu River Leaders Accord more than 65,000 native plants have been planted alongside waterways and over 208,000 metres of stream fencing has gone up.
There has also been 98 Environmental Farm Plans completed to help farmers reduce their environmental footprint, six wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and 19 community-led projects completed or underway.