The boss knew, says employee

A farm worker has accused a former employer of knowing his farm’s effluent system was faulty and doing nothing about it.

A former farm manager for Duncan Cheetham told the Environment Court in Palmerston North yesterday that he told his boss pumps weren’t working properly and was told to carry on sending effluent to hydrants to be sprayed over land rather than repairing the effluent ponds.

‘‘We never discharged to the effluent ponds the whole time I was there. I didn’t even know how to turn the taps on,’’ Darryl Woods said.

Mr Woods said he advised Mr Cheetham the effluent system wasn’t working properly. ‘‘It didn’t go to the travelling irrigator, it went to the hydrants instead.’’

Mr Cheetham is defending charges of breaching abatement notices for discharging effluent to land where it might  enter an unnamed tributary of the Taonui Stream from his Rangitikei Line dairy farm.

Mr Woods said that when the effluent went to the hydrants, ‘‘it would shoot up in the air like a fountain, and then come back down and pond around the bottom of them’’.

He said Mr Cheetham knew what was happening as he would have been able to see the ponding when he was on the farm.

Mr Woods said he had called contractors in to service the system and they had offered Mr Cheetham advice but he didn’t take it.

Mr Woods has pleaded guilty to six charges of illegally discharging effluent to land where it may enter a waterway and one charge of deceiving a council officer.

Manawatu Standard