Waikato Regional Council has blasted farmers who "continue to let the side down", after a number of recent court cases resulted in convictions for unlawfully discharging farm effluent.
Seven separate cases against Waikato farmers and businessmen resulted in convictions and fines totalling $318,025, the council said in a statement.
Sentencing for the cases took place over the past three months, with the final case being made public on Monday.
The prosecutions were taken by the Waikato Regional Council under the Resource Management Act.
Patrick Lynch, the council's regional compliance manager, said it was disappointing to see such cases.
"Farming is obviously a huge and vital industry that contributes to this region’s economy and communities in many ways," he said on Monday.
"The farming enterprises that feature in these seven cases reflect a very small portion of that industry. However, clearly, there are still some in the industry who are not taking their environmental obligations seriously and continue to let the side down.
"It is now well over 20 years since the current environmental regulation has been in place to manage effluent in this region. I have no doubt that many will be disappointed to see cases such as these still happening.
"Many farmers have excellent systems in place, but we continue to urge all rural businesses to invest in the infrastructure needed to manage effluent effectively, and to ensure they manage those systems every day they are in use."
In the first case, Trevor George Aitchison, a farmer owner at Morrinsville, was convicted in relation to unlawfully discharging effluent from an overflowing effluent sump and a disconnected irrigator in August 2019. He was fined a total of $52,000 in October 2020.
In the second case, Brok Farming Limited, a company operating a farm at Tamahere, was convicted in relation to over-application of effluent that made its way to a nearby tributary in September 2019. The company was fined $35,000 in September.
In the third case, Taupō dairy farmer John Richard Lockwood was convicted in relation to over-application of effluent in September and October 2019 and again in August 2020. He was fined $80,500 in December.
In the fourth case, Sonya Liddle, a Te Pahu contract milker, was convicted in relation to over-application of effluent from two irrigators in August and October 2019. She was fined $33,500.
In the fifth case, David Bruce Major, a contract milker employed on an Ōtorohanga dairy farm, was sentenced on three charges relating to inappropriate application of effluent from an irrigator in September and October 2019. On each occasion, the effluent flowed into the Matapara Stream that ultimately flows to the Pūniu River. He was fined 32,500 in October.
In the sixth case, Natural Spreaders Limited, a company operating a farm effluent spreading company based in south Waikato, was convicted in relation to over-application of effluent on a farm at Putaruru in August 2019. The company was fined $37,125 in November.
In the final case, Trinity Lands Limited, a company operating 20 farms in the south Waikato, was convicted in relation to over-application of effluent on a farm at Tirau in October 2019. The company was fined $46,900 by Judge Melinda Dickey in the Tokoroa District Court with the sentence formally issued on 18 January 2021.