Advice for dairy farmers on Maui gas leak

There has been a major disruption to the gas supply to the upper North Island due to a gas leak in one of the two supply lines just north of New Plymouth. The gas disruption is affecting the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Auckland and Northland regions.

Fonterra reports it has had to close a number of plants creating a significant situation with waste milk.

Tatua is also closed by the outage. Open Country Dairy and Miraka are not affected. Fonterra factories in Te Awamutu and Waitoa are coal fired and still operating.

As of last night (Tuesday 25 October) Fonterra ceased collecting milk from most farms in the upper North Island and farmers are currently responsible for disposal on farm.

The gas leak is expected to take a minimum of two days to repair.

Regional Council Advice to farmers

Regional councils affected are working with Fonterra and Dairy NZ to get consistent advice to farmers about what to do with their surplus milk.

The key message is not to put milk into waterways but to use onsite effluent disposal systems, spray waste milk onto land or dig an emergency pond.

MAF recommends that farmers with any questions about how to manage the disposal of waste milk on their farms should contact their regional council in the first instance:

Northland Regional Council: 0800) 002 004

Environment Waikato: (0800) 800 401

Bay of Plenty Regional Council: Pollution Prevention Team Leader, Steve Pickles (0800) 884 880

Environmental impacts of milk dumping into waterways

Milk has a more severe effect on waterways than dairy farm effluent – It can seriously affect river and stream life including fish, insects and vegetation.

Widespread dumping of milk could cause severe damage to waterways and the environment, which would take some time to recover.

Undiluted milk will also damage pasture. Diluted milk can be applied to pasture, and provided it is applied at appropriate application rates in suitable sites and weather conditions, it will not run-off to water.

In no circumstances should milk go directly into waterways.

Advice being given for on farm disposal is:

  • spray irrigation on to pasture (make sure milk is diluted with water)
  • effluent ponds (up to six milkings)
  • dumping in constructed pond or trench
  • any sacrifice area (needs to be at least 200m clear of house or dairy sheds)
  • feeding to livestock.

Other resources


Last Updated: 26 October 2011

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33