Groundwater contamination risk attracts large fine

Waikato Regional Council officer sampling contamination. Photo: Waikato Regional Council.

A Waikato farming company has been convicted and fined $94,500 in the Hamilton District Court for unlawful discharges of dairy effluent into the environment in November 2022 and June 2023. 

ANP Farms Limited was sentenced by District Court Judge Melinda Dickey this week on three charges under the Resource Management Act as a result of a prosecution taken by Waikato Regional Council.

In November 2022, council officers conducted an inspection at a farm owned by the defendant at Puketaha, on the outskirts of Hamilton.

They found a large volume of dairy effluent ponded in a paddock and issued the defendant with an abatement notice prohibiting further unlawful discharges.

Seven months later, council officers conducted a follow up inspection and found further large-scale ponding of effluent at the farm.

“Animal effluent can be a great fertiliser when irrigated appropriately to land. However, large volumes of deep ponded effluent can pose a real risk of contaminating groundwater,” says regional compliance manager Patrick Lynch.

“It can have the same effect on water quality as piping effluent directly into a stream.

“This region has had clear rules in place for the last 30 years prohibiting this kind of activity and it is disappointing that we still find instances of this, even after putting a farm formally on notice.”   

In sentencing, Judge Dickey described “ANP’s culpability as ranging from careless at the time of the first offence to highly careless at the time of the second offence given the time that had elapsed between offences”.

Judge Dickey believed “there was ample opportunity for ANP to address its issues between November 2022 and June the following year”.

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