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Hefty fine for ‘woefully inadequate’ effluent management

A Te Kowhai dairy farmer has been convicted and fined $35,625 in the Hamilton District Court for allowing large volumes of dairy effluent to overflow into the environment. 

The contamination was identified during a routine inspection by Waikato Regional Council in March 2017 as part of its compliance monitoring programme. 

The prosecution against Edward Smith, brought by the council, related to an overflowing effluent holding pond and a blocked effluent drainage pipe, each resulting in overland flows of dairy effluent.

In sentencing Mr Smith, Judge Melanie Harland commented on the inadequacies of the effluent infrastructure on his farm, saying it was “barely adequate” and concluding that the management of the system was “woefully inadequate”.

The council’s investigations manager, Patrick Lynch, agreed with the judge that “investment in the effluent infrastructure, and the management of it, needs to be afforded a very high priority”. 

“The judge’s comments reinforce the message that both the council and the industry itself have been promoting for years,” Lynch said. “It is very disappointing to find that some farms continue to operate with inadequate storage. 

“This fine is yet another clear message from the court that people who do not take their environmental responsibilities seriously will be heavily penalised.”   

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