Guideline Index

Chapter 13: Using Dairy Effluent

13.2 Legal requirements for dairy effluent management

Dairy effluent is considered a potential point source for pollution of waterways. Mismanagement has the potential to impact water quality resulting in degradation of environmental assets.

All Australian States and Territories have set minimum standards that all dairies, irrespective of size, must comply with. These standards include State and industry legislation, codes of practices, guidelines and planning provisions to prevent any adverse impact from dairy effluent.

It is important to note that the environment protection frameworks and associated policies across Australia place the onus of environment protection on those that manage the land and water resources.

The fundamental principles regarding the management of dairy effluent should ensure:

  • All effluent from the dairy, feedpads, standoff areas, underpasses and tracks must be contained and reused (most commonly spread back on pastures and crop).
  • Effluent must not enter surface waters (including billabongs, canals, springs, swamps, natural or artificial channels, lakes, lagoons, creeks and rivers).
  • Runoff containing effluent must not leave the property boundary.
  • Effluent must not enter ground waters either directly or through infiltration.
  • Effluent must not contaminate land (that is, avoid nutrient overload).
  • Offensive odours must not impact beyond property boundaries.

Farmers should also be aware that recent changes in various States have seen risks associated with effluent management being incorporated into Dairy Food-Safety Audits to ensure a more consistent approach.