Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Waikato farmer fined $70k over effluent release

A Waikato farmer has been convicted and fined $70,000 in Te Awamutu District Court for the unlawful discharge of dairy effluent into the environment following a prosecution by Waikato Regional Council.

Douglas Villers Torr was sentenced by District Court Judge Brian Dwyer last week, following a defended hearing in November and a failed application for a discharge without conviction.

Mr Torr was also found to be in contravention of an Abatement Notice relating to an incident on a Waitakaruru dairy farm in September 2020.

Responding to a complaint on 12 September 2020, council officers conducted a compliance inspection at Torr’s farm property and found him in the process of pumping out the contents of his effluent pond onto a paddock using a stationary irrigator.

He told the officers he had been irrigating effluent in the same paddock for a number of days.

The court heard Mr Torr was causing significant ponding of thick effluent sludge and liquid over a wide area.

The Council said this activity posed a threat of contamination to groundwater and also contravened an Abatement Notice that had been served on Mr Torr in 2017 following an earlier dairy effluent-related offence.

“This has been a particularly disappointing case,” said Waikato Regional Council Compliance Manager, Patrick Lynch.

“Mr Torr has simply not accepted that his actions posed a real risk of contaminating the environment. He ignored the very clear warning he had been given in 2017 and then required a lengthy court case, where expert witnesses were needed, to give evidence to establish this risk.”

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