Keeping stock off stopbanks prevents damage
Monday, 8 June 2015 10:00 a.m.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council again reminds rural communities to keep grazing stock off stopbanks as winter sets in, so the structures can fully achieve their intended purpose.
Stopbanks provide essential flood protection for thousands of people in the Bay of Plenty and, while they can be grazed by cattle at some times of the year, especially when the ground is firm in summer, grazing should be kept to a minimum in winter.
Wetter soil conditions, combined with heavy animals, can weaken and damage the region’s stopbanks, Council Principal Works Engineer Tony Dunlop says.
“During winter it is common sense to keep cattle off the stopbanks as much as possible to prevent the pugging and damage they can cause. Most farmers and lifestyle block owners know this and take care of our community assets.
“Good grass cover on a stopbank helps protect the soil structure underneath, so pugging is not just a surface problem,” Tony says. “It can cause much greater issues; one weak area can have a disastrous effect on surrounding properties and stopbanks. All it takes is one breached section of stopbank to flood thousands of hectares of farmland.”
It is an offence to damage stopbanks, and landowners can be held liable for any damage.
“The stopbanks are designed to protect property, production and the safety of everyone in our community. So we need to reinforce the importance of looking after our stopbanks to anyone who may be grazing stock,” Tony says. “We will keep an eye on our stopbanks to ensure farmers are doing the right thing. There is too much at stake to risk flood damage to the properties and surrounding communities.”
Council manages and maintains almost 352km of stopbanks, protecting many millions of dollars’ worth of land and property.
- ‘Stock banks’ is a very common public misnomer for stopbanks. Using the correct term may help remind people of the primary function of these valuable assets (to provide flood protection rather than to graze stock).
- Pugging occurs when stock tramples wet pasture, turning it to mud. Hooves create shallow holes of compacted soil, damaging the pasture by burying it in the mud. This can reduce stopbank height.