With the change of season, Bay of Plenty Regional Council is again reminding rural landowners of the requirements to protect the region’s stopbanks from the effects of stock and overgrazing.
Over the wetter winter months stopbanks can be damaged by stock and over grazing and landowners can be held liable for any damage.
Rivers and Drainage Asset Manager Kirsty Brown says most farmers and lifestyle block owners know the rules but the importance of maintaining the region’s flood defences can’t be underestimated.
“Council manages and maintains almost 352km of stopbanks across the region to protect people, property and livelihoods. During winter, it is common sense to keep stock off the stopbanks as much as possible to prevent pugging and damage,” Ms Brown says.
“While light grazing of sheep and cows is allowed on stopbanks in the dryer months, over winter it’s best to keep all stock off them as much as possible to prevent damage.”
“When stopbanks become wet, stock can churn up the ground which can create serious issues. Good grass cover helps to hold together the soil structure underneath – so weakening that top layer can have catastrophic effects on surrounding properties.”
“Vehicles can also damage stopbanks, especially when the ground is wet, so please make sure you aren’t driving trucks, tractors or other machinery on them.”
“Our Rivers and Drainage team routinely monitor the condition of our stopbanks, but we equally welcome contact from members of the public who may suspect a problem. Our Pollution Hotline (0800 884 883) is the best way to report any areas of concern,” Ms Brown adds.
Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws apply to stopbanks and other flood defences and water controls like drains. They require landowners to apply for permission if they are intending to build or demolish any structure, undertake earthworks, or do any plantings in the vicinity of a Regional Council managed flood defence or drain.
Bylaw conditions differ across the region so Ms Brown is asking anyone living near one of the region’s flood defences to go onto the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s website for full details.
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