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Large fines as Waikato ‘green stream’ complaints flow in

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In two separate cases taken by Waikato Regional Council, a Waikato farming company and a farmer have been convicted and fined $53,440 and $51,750 respectively for unlawfully discharging farm animal effluent into the environment.

These fines come as a timely reminder to farmers, with the council also responding to a growing series of complaints from members of the public about ‘green streams’ in recent weeks.

Each of these complaints have been responded to by the council’s incident response team, with staff identifying effluent run off into waterways as the cause on each occasion. The six reported incidents in the last two weeks have been to waterways near Hamilton, Karāpiro, Te Awamutu, Ōtorohanga, Gordonton and Te Pahu.

"Each of these incidents is serious and is being investigated," said council investigations manager Patrick Lynch. "They have all caused an adverse effect on the environment and because of this could also lead to enforcement action. While we appreciate this is a particularly busy time of year for farmers, effluent management has to be a priority.

"We are very grateful to the community members who have contacted us. They have seen something that does not look right and called us, enabling us to respond and halt the pollution as quickly as possible," Mr Lynch said.

"This is frustrating for everyone. The rural community and the farming industry expect better from their own. The wider farming industry have worked very hard to reduce their environmental impact through riparian fencing and planting, as well as investment in effluent management infrastructure. Unfortunately there are still some who continue to let everyone down and continue to pollute," he said.

The first of the recently completed cases was sentenced by Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Auckland District Court and found there had been mismanagement of effluent on two neighbouring dairy farms operated by P Walter Farm Ltd, near Pukekohe, in October last year. Council staff found effluent irrigators on both farms had been deliberately disconnected allowing the effluent to pond in large volumes, causing a risk of contaminating groundwater. One of the discharges continued in the same paddock for five days. An Enforcement Order was also issued requiring assessment and improvement of the farm’s effluent system.

The second of the cases was sentenced by Judge Melinda Dickey in the Hamilton District Court and found there had been mismanagement of effluent on a dairy farm operated by Allan Crouch at Orini in October last year. Council staff found that effluent from a farm race had been deliberately scraped into a watercourse and there was large-scale ponding of effluent, posing a risk to groundwater.

Reports of environmental pollution can be made to the council by calling the 24-hour Freephone 0800 800 401.

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