Farm fined $19k over discharge

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 13:21 08/11/2013

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A Canterbury farm has been fined $19,000 after discharging dairy effluent on to land. 

Groundwater Holdings Ltd pleaded guilty after action was taken against it for discharging effluent directly from a stock underpass to a paddock and a tree line.

In a written decision, Judge Paul Kellar fined the Leeston-based company $19,000 plus costs.

The underpass had been prone to leaking groundwater and a system had been installed to pump clear water to the tree line and effluent through a sump to the farm's effluent disposal system.

In November 2012, the pipe to the sump was disconnected and the pump to the tree line was switched off, causing effluent to pond in both areas.  

In his ruling, Judge Kellar said the company should have acted sooner to find a better solution to the groundwater issues at the underpass. 

"This is not a case of there being inadequate effluent storage. No reasonable amount of storage could have coped with the amount of water in the underpass."

He also noted that a farm manager was instructed by a director of the company to stop the pumping but failed to do so and had to be asked again the following day.

He said the company, which he described as one of  "good character" - had acknowledged the manager, at the time, was under stress and should have been more closely supervised. 

Environment Canterbury's resource management director Kim Drummond said the groundwater issues at the underpass had been known for an "extended period" and the ultimate responsibility for the farming systems and processes were with the company and its director.

The prosecution was one of three during the 2012-13 dairy season, which also saw nine abatement notices and 11 infringement notices issues.

During the 2012-13 season 72 per cent of dairy farmers were fully compliant with their effluent consents, up two percentage points on the previous season, while 21 per cent of farms had minor non-compliance issues, with significant non-compliance at seven per cent - down one percentage point from the previous season.

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- The Press

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