Presenters: Jo Cavanagh, Landcare Research

Presentation title: Developing soil guideline values for the protection of soil biota in New Zealand

Under the Resource Management Act, regional councils and unitary authorities have responsibilities for soil quality and land management to safeguard the life-supporting capacity of soil and ecosystems, and ensure any adverse effects on the environment are avoided or mitigated. This includes regulating the discharge of contaminants and managing contaminated land. To assist in managing soil quality, different policy and regulatory approaches have been implemented in New Zealand. From a contaminated land perspective, the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (the NES) came into effect on 1 January 2012; from an agricultural perspective the National Cadmium Management Strategy was released in February 2011 and includes a Tiered Fertiliser Management System to assist in reducing the cadmium accumulation over time. Currently, guidelines for the disposal of residual waste to land, and for the beneficial use of organic waste (including biosolids, and updating the current Biosolids guidelines) are being developed and also require consideration how to prevent the negative impact of contaminants on the environment. A fundamental aspect of ensuring regional councils are able to fulfil these responsibilities is to have a clear understanding of the potential effect of hazardous substances on soil organisms (microbes, macrofauna and plants). Soil guideline values developed to protect soil biota (Eco-SGVs) provide a useful means to readily assess potential environmental impact. However, a consistent methodology for deriving such criteria for use in New Zealand has not been agreed. A two-year Envirolink funded project commenced in July 2014 to assist Regional Councils to develop soil guideline values for the protection of ecological receptors (Eco-SGVs). As Eco-SGVs can be developed to provide different levels of protection depending on their application, feedback will be sought from industry and other stakeholders regarding the application of these values and achieve agreement on the derivation methodology. This paper provides background to the development of Eco-SGVs, and an outline of this ongoing project.

Event: WasteMINZ Conference 2014

Date: Thursday 23 October 2014