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Farmer fined $41,000 over stream “flowing green with effluent”

Waikato Regional Council is urging dairy farmers to seek advice about effluent management from accredited experts following the conviction of a Reporoa farming company.

In the Rotorua District Court, Judge Melanie Harland this week convicted and fined Bella Ridge Farms Limited $41,850 for discharging a large volume of dairy effluent from a farm and into the Mangatete Stream. 

The council estimated that approximately 450 cubic metres of dairy effluent had been lost into the environment in November 2016. This is the equivalent of 17 truck and trailer units full of effluent. The volume was such that it was able to be detected 8 kilometres downstream at Lake Ohakuri.

The prosecution was brought by Waikato Regional Council after being contacted by a member of the public who reported that the Mangatete Stream was “flowing green with effluent”. 

The subsequent investigation found that an effluent irrigation pipe had been disconnected. Effluent had then syphoned from the pipe by virtue of gravity over a 14 hour period. The effluent flowed across a short distance of land and into the stream. 

The council’s investigations and incident response manager, Patrick Lynch, said: “This incident was completely avoidable. The farmer had invested heavily in attempts to manage his effluent, however, he did not source good advice. 

“The system did not have the usual safeguards and this discharge was the outcome. We strongly urge farmers to work with accredited dairy effluent designers to ensure their systems are fit for purpose,” Mr Lynch said.

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