Big fine for Waikato farmer over effluent

A Waikato farmer is facing a large fine for discharging dairy effluent.

Farming company H & S Chisholm Farms Limited, has been convicted and fined $57,375 for two discharges of dairy effluent from its South Waikato farm in mid-2017.

The sentence was imposed by Judge Melanie Harland in the Hamilton District Court.

The prosecution was taken by Waikato Regional Council, under the Resource Management Act, following a complaint by a member of public that a tributary of the Waipā Stream looked "contaminated". 

The council's farming services team subsequently located an effluent holding pond overflowing in large volumes to the tributary.

A Waikato Regional Council officer takes a sample from effluent overflow into a tributary.
A Waikato Regional Council officer takes a sample from effluent overflow into a tributary. Photo credit: Supplied

Immediate steps were taken to stop the overflow. The council also issued an abatement notice, returning to the farm two weeks later to carry out a follow-up inspection. 

On that visit they found the pond was no longer overflowing, however, dairy effluent was still entering the stream from an effluent irrigator in use on the farm. 

Judge Harland noted that the company's response to the incidents was "exemplary", with significant investment in effluent infrastructure on the farm following the pollution events. 

However, the Judge also noted that "dairy farmers in the Waikato region have had ample time to understand what is required to lawfully manage dairy effluent and to become educated about best practice, both in terms of the design, operation and management of effluent systems".

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