‘Fonterra had cleared the cows from 16 farms to use these farmlands to dispose of waste water The waste water was odorless, colorless but it was definitely a pollutant that Fonterra was leaching into private water supplies (This story was first published by RNZ) It was. Come 2017 most of the stock had vanished completely from two farms. Neville Ross first noticed that cows were slowly decreasing from local farms in his area In 2017 most of the stock had vanished from two farms in the area. In 2018 stock had also disappeared from a third Cambridge farm.
Neville was a Detective in the NZ Police Force for 40 plus years not a Farmer, at this time Neville’s wife noticed her husbands health declining he had been unwell, sadly Neville had a brain tumour. In 2018 it was noticed that three farms in Cambridge had now become stock free. Fonterra’s ‘Buxton’ farm which is one of the farms in the area where Neville and his wife lived which was owned by Fonterra, although it was stock free the sign ‘ Dairy Is Life’ and ‘Wandering Stock’ remained on the farm gate. The farm looked smart but it was described as a tip.
The Fonterra Hautapu Milk Processing Plant described in the news article had been dumping it’s wastewater onto a farm near where Neville and his wife lived. At peak production times Fonterra’s Hautapu plant processes approximately 150 tanker loads of milk, uses between 6,000 to 8,000 cubic metres of fresh water daily. Some of the water is fresh water and other water that is piped and irrigated onto Fonterra owned farms is waste water that they use to clean out their factory tanks and pipes that contains cleaning products, its this water that’s piped onto and then irrigates Fonterra owned farms.
According to Fonterra these farms are a well managed and a good circular model for nutrient management, that the wastewater helps to grow the grass on these farms that then is fed to cows. (Source of information-RNZ and Otago Daily Times). Fonterra’s wastewater from their factories contains nitrogen from the cleaning products they use to clean pipes and vats, if you add nitrogen from the wastewater to nitrogen from the cows urine this then become a high nitrogen level. This higher load of nitrogen starts seeping into the ground water and then pollutes beyond the Fonterra owned farm fence. Because the cows have been removed from the equation more wastewater spreads on the land.
The grass from these Fonterra owned farms which are often called ‘Ghost Farms’ is cut, carted elsewhere and used to feed cows, this is called ‘cut and carry, Fonterra prefers to name these farms as ‘Nutrient Management Farming’. Fonterra has been reported as saying they have consent for their 16 farms which they say are used for ‘Nutrient Management’ (It is reported that Fonterra own 29 of these ‘Ghost Farms’ in New Zealand)
Neville and his wife Denise had no idea that the wastewater on the Buxton Farm was used to soak up the local dairy plants wastewater, it was only discovered in 2020 after the local community decided to fight Fonterra’s proposal to build a wastewater treatment plant on the property. The community was most unhappy at the prospect of an industrial plant with huge ponds in their rural setting they felt that this should be in an industrial zoned area. Since this Fonterra started investigating other locations for the plant. Fonterra’s original proposal however drew the local community to the testing of bores close to the farm to see what condition their water was in, it was only then that Neville and Denise realised there could be problems with their water.
Neville and Denise had purchased their piece of land in 2010 and while Neville was building the house, both he and Denise drank the bore water, when construction of the house was finished Denise chose to drink rainwater however Neville thought the bore water tasted better, so he drank that. Fonterra tested some of the local communities bore water however there had been an 18month wait for the final results to be sent to them Fonterra never offered to test Denise and Nevilles wastewater. Fonterra reported that they did not do this because the ground water flow from Buxton Farm went north and Neville and Denise’s property is to the west.
Fonterra had been testing the bore water of some locals, although there had been an 18-month wait to have results sent to them. The company never offered to test Denise and Neville’s water because Fonterra thought the flow of ground water from Buxton Farm went north and the Ross’s farm lay to the west. It was 10 years after they moved onto their property that the couple got their first test results which was found to be really high, however they did not know what the test result meant.
You can’t see nitrate-nitrogen in the water because its colourless, odourless and tasteless and nitrogen cannot be boiled away, boiling concentrates the levels of nitrates. The amount of nitrogen allowed in New Zealand’s drinking water is 11.3 milligrams per litre, this is the level suggested by the World Health Organization as reported to avoid what they call ‘Blue Baby Syndrome’ which is a fatal condition caused by consuming too much nitrate during pregnancy or via bottle feeding.
The amount allowed in drinking water in New Zealand is 11.3 milligrams per litre (mg/L). It’s a level suggested by the World Health Organisation to avoid ‘blue baby syndrome’, a fatal condition caused by consuming too much nitrate during pregnancy, or via bottle feeding. The nitrate is reported to reduce the ability of the red blood cells to release oxygen to tissues which can suffocate a baby thus turning the baby blue. Only one fatal incidence of this has been recorded in New Zealand. However other studies have showed the connection with nitrates in drinking water and colorectal cancer.
This news article also reports although there is evidence, its not strong evidence that shows a possible association between nitrate in drinking water with bladder and breast cancer, thyroid disease and birth defects. (This news article does not go into details of the source of information of these studies, where and when, by whom) Other evidence, although not as strong, shows a possible association between nitrate in drinking water with bladder and breast cancer, thyroid disease and birth defects. It was when Neville’s wife was at a gathering in the local community hall of local community that were concerned about the Fonterra wastewater plant proposal when she found out about the nitrates and the association with cancer. It had been two years earlier that Neville had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.
The results of their bore water tests were above New Zealand’s standards and well above those levels associated with colorectal cancer, therefore she had reason to think that this was part of the reason her husband is so sick, this was extremely upsetting for her. At the time this article was reported sadly Neville was extremely sick, had been in remission. Although Denise and Neville were not dairy farmers, they are not anti-dairy farmers and not anti Fonterra either, they saw both as being an important part of New Zealand’s economy. Denise said that Fonterra had been helpful since the quality of their water was discovered however Neville’s response was as to Fonterra’s wastewater being dumped next door “is a bit untidy in regards to human beings” as he wondered if there is a better solution.
Although Denise says , in recent times there have been deaths in the area due to cancer however there is no suggestion its due to Fonterra’s Ghost Farms, but has left Denise wondering. This has left Neville and his wife worrying about the rest of the neighbourhood too. Fonterra supplied Neville and Denise with a filtration system to remove the nitrate from the water, they supplied 38 water filter systems to other properties near the Hautapu factory because of groundwater contamination. Fonterra now has another option for dealing with its waste water from the Hautapu factory, this project would see the wastewater from the Hautapu wastewater managed by the municipal system. Waikato District Council reported that Fonterra had bailed out of the project because of the cost impact to Fonterra and the uncertainty of cost, commercial arrangement and delivery times.
Cambridge is not the only area in New Zealand that Fonterra has supplied water filters to because of their plant’s wastewater spreading. People in the dairy intensive Canterbury area have also been given new filters by Fonterra, like Denise and Neville had no idea they were living close to Fonterra’s ‘ghost farms’, where Fonterra and other smaller dairy companies do just as Fonterra do with their wastewater. Often these farms are irrigated with wastewater for decades and also hold resource consents just as Fonterra do.
It is noted that these consents allow the amount of nitrogen in wastewater to be far higher than the new freshwater rules that they allow farmers on grazed land as fertilizer (190kg per hectare per year of synthetic nitrogen). Unless the wastewater is more than 5 percent nitrogen it’s not considered fertiliser. Because these wastewater farms hold resource consent for disposal of waste water products they are able to sidestep the new rule and continue to spread their heavy nitrate waste water because their consents allow them to.
Because the wastewater farms hold resource consents for disposal of waste products, they will be able to sidestep the new rule which comes into play in July and continue to spread as much as their consent permits. Fonterra have been reported to saying “ they work between the guidelines of councils”. Fonterra have reported they have major plans over the next 10 years, with $400 million earmarked for upgrades to wastewater plants at their Edgecumbe, Whareroa, Maungaturoto, Te Awamutu, Longburn, Reporoa, Kapuni, Clandeboye and Hautapu factories and aims to reduce the nitrogen in the water before it reaches other farms.
The Otago Times article reports “In some cases the differences between the new synthetic nitrogen cap for fertiliser and the amount of nitrogen for dairy companies in which they are allowed to spread waste water on these ghost farms is eye watering” It has been reported that the current highest consent amount is in Canterbury. The Clandeboye plant is allowed to spread up to 600kg of nitrogen per hectare per year. Environment Canterbury’s 2020 nitrate risk map links past wastewater irrigation with high levels of nitrate-nitrogen in the area. One survey describes a “contamination plume” and notes 53 wells, mostly near the Clandeboye dairy factory and Seadown fertiliser storage facility, exceed drinking water standards for nitrate-nitrogen. Fonterra has supplied two Canterbury homes with water systems because of nitrate in the ground water, and another house with a UV filter.
In the Waikato, Fonterra’s Hautapu plant has a resource consent to spread up to 500kg per hectare per year on Bruntwood farm and 400kg on Buxton and Bardowie farms. Maximum results from monitored bores show a reading of 17.80mg/L for Bruntwood farm, 18mg/L for Buxton farm and 26.8mg/L for a bore on Bardowie farm.
In Reporoa, wastewater has been spread for decades and at one point up to 800kg of nitrate-nitrogen was allowed, this has dropped to 420kg. The highest average reading from the 2017/18 fiscal year from a bore in the area is 18.7mg/L. RNZ’s efforts to gather resource consents and monitoring results from wastewater farms nationwide found some consents don’t require monitoring. For those that do, most show levels of concern in some, but not all the bores monitored for many of the farms where water is spread. Even if monitoring is a condition of resource consents, most don’t require a reduction in the amount of wastewater spread if the ground water is affected.
One must question the “cumulative regulatory failure” of councils, and what about the Resource Management Act (RMA). Obviously the Governments whipping boy is the New Zealand farmer, where is the accountability and responsibly here? Oh, that’s right its always the farmers fault, thrown them under their tractors. One rule for the companies and another for the farmers. Get rid of cows, after all the International Biannual Parliamentary Gatherings (IPU) and the annual Global Convention of mayors are obsessed with their plan namely ‘The Global New Green Deal’, cull the cows, get of the cars off the roads, build at least 500km of cycleways across New Zealand and plant small urban forests in namely Human Habitats. Rural migration to Urban City highly populated and controlled area’s of surveillance. Whoever owns the land, controls the food hence controls the people. Farmers worldwide report land and water grabs. Severe restriction imposed on them so that they sell of their farms at cheap prices. Or authorities demand they give up their farms as they are doing in parts of Africa.
Note: The NZ Local Government Act 2002, just after the Act was introduced Crown Law found a major loophole as to Trade Waste Water, this has allowed NZ Companies to leach contaminants, chemicals, high level of nitrates into drains, hence leaching into water ways and some washed out to sea. It has been reported that some treatment plants have been unable to deal with this. Twenty year have gone by the Act has never been amended although often bought to the Govts attention, as it has been bought to Nanaia Mahuta’s attention more recently. No prosecutions, no fines the government use an educative approach and the contamination continues. Ammonia in some of this contaminated water has eaten into under ground pipes hence they have been eaten away by the ammonia. These pipes cost rate payers approx.., $5,000 per metre to replace. This my dear friends is the ‘New Global Green Deal’ scam. Nanaia Mahuta reports as to the Three Waters Reform that the wastewater system will have to wait a couple of years before they deal with this. The massive plan to rob rate payers continues. Wake Up New Zealand, the governments transparency is Zilch.
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Carol Sakey https://wakeupnz.org