Regional Councils are constrained by the Resource Management Act when developing regional plans, and are required to consider activities that may affect the environment.
This is the reason resource consent must be obtained by farmers in all regions before discharging treated effluent into a waterway.
Before a rule permitting discharge into water (or across land where it may eventually enter water) can be included in a regional plan, a Regional Council must be satisfied that the discharge will not result in any of the following:
- noticeable oil or grease films, scums or foams
- noticeable changes in colour or visual clarity
- emission of odours
- a rendering of the water unsuitable for stock water
- adverse effects on aquatic life.
Regional Councils have the ability to carry out a number of enforcement procedures if farmers do not comply with the rules that are in place for that particular region.