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Judge “astounded” by Hamilton sewage case

4 December 2018

The body corporate of a Hamilton gated community, The Sanctuary, has been convicted and fined $53,550 for discharging sewage wastewater from its wastewater system into a city stream.

In passing sentence, Hamilton District Court Judge Melanie Harland stated there were “astounding aspects to the case”.

An overflow pipe from the privately owned wastewater system was discovered discharging wastewater into the Kirikiriroa Stream, in north Hamilton, on 13 March 2017. The Kirikiriroa Stream flows to the Waikato River.

Waikato Regional Council’s Incident Response team attended and found the pipe to be discharging about 300 litres of wastewater per hour. The council could not determine how long the discharge had been occurring, but found that the illegal discharge had been the result of a series of systemic faults that were under the control of The Sanctuary’s body corporate.

The discharge was reported to the body corporate, who took steps to stop the overflow and return the pumping station to proper operation.

In sentencing, Judge Harland commented that she was surprised by “the complete lack of information about the outlet pipe” and that the body corporate was “extremely careless, bordering on reckless” and needed to ensure the wastewater system was properly maintained.

The judge noted that human effluent is normally regarded as more noxious than dairy effluent, further stating, “Clearly, if a stream that feeds into the Waikato River is contaminated with human sewage, this is an offence to all people.”

Council investigations and incident response manager, Patrick Lynch, said: “This prosecution serves as yet another warning to people who are responsible for effluent systems, whether human, dairy or otherwise, that the system must be fit for purpose and well maintained to ensure there are not harmful discharges into the environment.”

Video: Waikato Regional Council staff attend the discovery of a sewage discharge into Kirikiriroa Stream in March 2017. https://youtu.be/IOVkBAMMxBw


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