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Farmer fined for unlawful discharge

Farmer fined for unlawful discharge

A small dairy farming company operating near Timaru is paying the price for not adequately managing their diary effluent disposal. R J Dairy Farming Limited has pleaded guilty to breaching the Resource Management Act and has been fined $20,000 plus ordered to pay costs.

A routine inspection by Environment Canterbury officers late last year found effluent overflowing the ponding system used on the farm and into the nearby Otipua Creek. The effluent had cut a small channel between the pond and the creek indicating it had been happening for a long period of time.

In his ruling, Judge B P Dwyer noted that water samples taken both upstream and down from the discharge point showed the presence of E. Coli at a level high enough to have a significantly adverse effect on the creek’s ecosystem.

Environment Canterbury’s Resource Management Director, Kim Drummond, says the health of Canterbury’s waterways is recognised as an important issue and a lot of work is being done with the community to address water quality.

“It is well accepted within the dairy industry that the discharge of effluent directly to water is poor practice and unacceptable,” says Mr Drummond, explaining that generally there have been improvements in environmental performance and effluent compliance rates in the dairy sector.

“We acknowledge the efforts many land users are already making, but in this case, poor effluent management practices have led to a substantial breach of the RMA; we feel it’s essential to show there are serious consequences for doing that.”

Judge Dwyer recognised the defendant accepted responsibility for the offending when it was first detected but also pointed out that part of the their problem arose from the farm manager not being sufficiently trained and close enough attention not being paid to the property.

“Ultimately it is the farming company and director who are responsible for the culture and systems supporting the farming operation,” says Mr Drummond. “They are the one who need to make sure the rules are being followed.”


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