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Environmental prosecution leads to good outcomes

Waiotahi Contractors have been fined $88,200 for allowing sediment contaminated stormwater to enter the Kaitemako Stream in Ohauiti. The offending happened during a late summer rain event in February last year, when despite being warned about oncoming rain, an earthworks site they were managing near Ohauiti was overwhelmed and their sediment controls couldn’t cope. As a result, the disturbed soil was washed into waterways, and samples taken at the point it entered the stream were more than 60 times over the permitted level.

Regulatory Compliance Manager Alex Miller says when high levels of sediment enter waterways it has a bigger effect than just making the river look a little muddy.

“These events can significantly impact freshwater ecosystems, and contribute to longer term sedimentation issues such as what we see happening in Tauranga Moana. Earthworks sites need careful management, particularly in cases like this where the development is happening on steep slopes next to waterways. The conditions within the resource consent look to specifically address the environmental risks and ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen but, unfortunately in this case, those conditions weren’t adhered to,” says Mr Miller.

Although a hard lesson to swallow Henry Claydon, the Managing Director of Waiotahi Contractors, says they have used it as an opportunity to step up their efforts in environmental management by recognising where their systems, processes and training have fallen short.

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"We have invested heavily in the environmental space and have since achieved the International Standard ISO 14001 for our new Environmental Management System. I am extremely proud of the positive determination our team has shown in achieving this qualification. This will help ensure we do our part to protect the environment for future generations,” he says.

Regional Council recently partnered with a consultant, working on behalf of Waiotahi, to provide a workshop to a range of local earthworks operators on the importance of sound environmental management, compliance with resource consent conditions and steps they can take to ensure they minimise the risk of these sorts of events occurring.

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