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Illegal Water Costs Farmer $24,500

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tampering with a farm water meter last summer has cost a Tararua district dairy farmer almost $25,000. Palmerston North Judge Gregory Ross, who sentenced farmer Kevin John Harris [on Tuesday September 9] for illegally taking water from the Raparapawai Stream, near Dannevirke, said water resources as a whole were coming under increasing stress and people needed to be aware of the need to comply with the conditions of resource consents.

Judge Ross said Harris had ignored repeated warnings from Horizons Regional Council to comply with his consent and had continued to try to mislead the council into thinking he was not taking water from the stream by disconnecting his meter from the pipework. Horizons received misleading information from the remote monitoring telemetry unit on Harris's farm.

Horizons will receive 90 percent of the $24,500 total fines and costs awarded against Harris. Judge Ross said the level of fines for the offending, in December 2007 and February 2008, was designed to send a strong general deterrent message to others that the sort of offending that led Harris to court would not be tolerated.

The fines included a $5000 penalty for failing to comply with an abatement notice issued by Horizons in December 2007 that required Harris to comply with his consent. Judge Ross said failure to comply with abatement notices is a serious matter in itself and that people needed to comply with such notices within the stated timeframe rather than at their leisure.

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