Two farmers fined for illegal water takes
October 11, 2006
Two farmers fined for illegal water takes last irrigation season
In the past fortnight, two farmers growing crops have been fined for irrigating illegally last season and a third case is still to be finalised. The completed cases were heard in front of Environment Court Judge Jeff Smith, sitting in the Christchurch District Court.
Lynn Crozier, of Killinchy, Central Canterbury, was fined $5000 plus costs for taking water from Boggy Creek, which was on irrigation restriction at the time. The offence occurred on January 29 this year. Mr Crozier had an irrigation consent, subject to the condition that once Boggy Creek’s flow went below 100 litres per second at Lake Rd, his water take should cease. At the time of the offence, Boggy Creek’s flow was estimated at around 24 litres per second. Mr Crozier had pleaded guilty.
John Christey, of Southbridge, Leeston, pleaded guilty to irrigating his crop illegally in December last year and was fined $4000. Mr Christey’s groundwater consent was hydraulically connected to the Rakaia River, which is subject to a Conservation Order. Any water takes from hydraulically connected groundwater are subject to restrictions when the river drops below its minimum environmental flow. ECan had written to all consent holders irrigating with water connected to the Rakaia River on November 17. Mr Christey said he had not opened his mail at that time and in mitigation said he expected a phone call from ECan advising them the river supply was restricted. ECan staff advised that the practice of phoning consent holders had ceased at least five years earlier.
With conditions already pointing towards another dry summer with irrigation restrictions already in place on the Rakaia River and further south, Environment Canterbury’s director regulation Dr Mike Freeman says there is no excuse for people to claim ignorance. “If everyone ignored the conditions on their consents, the environment would not stand a chance,” said Dr Freeman. “Irrigators may well say that they were unaware the river is on restriction but the onus is on them to be vigilant and turn off their pumps accordingly. ECan’s Pollution Hotline is the number to ring if you suspect someone is taking water from a restricted source – 03 366 4663.”