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$47,000 in fines for North Waikato effluent offending

A North Waikato dairying operation and its manager have been fined a total of almost $50,000 after admitting unlawful spilling of effluent from a holding pond on to land.

Young Wah Chong Dairy Limited was fined $27,000 in the Auckland District Court by Judge Fred McElrea, while farm manager Garry Ivan Box was fined $20,000.

Both the company and Box had received a warning in 2006 from Environment Waikato over similar problems.

A summary of facts from EW, which brought the prosecution, said effluent from the property was held in storage ponds and was then pumped directly to a traveling irrigator for application to pasture.

After a complaint in July last year, council staff inspected the property and found effluent discharging from a pond at multiple points. The effluent was "flowing rapidly" along two paths. One went into a drain while another went into a culvert.

Staff noted effluent flowing through a series of silt ladders designed to stop the material getting into the Waikato River.

"Effluent was observed flowing down through the silt ladders where it dispersed across the paddock surface to a marshy area before entering a drain, which led to the Waikato River," the summary of facts said.

Box acknowledged the ponds had been overtopping from about 29 July 2009 and conceded they would have been overtopping for two weeks prior, due to a combination of heavy rainfall and inability to irrigate because the ground was too wet.

A new effluent storage facility had not been utilized on the day of the inspection or before then. It started being used the day after the inspection.

During the inspection, Box expressed regret for effluent running down the road and a follow up visit by the council in September showed an abatement notice had been complied with.

The summary said neither defendant had appeared before the court previously.

But it also noted Box and the company had been warned by EW in 2006 over an effluent pond overtopping during periods of high rainfall and discharging to water. Box had also been written to in 2002 after a complaint about a discharge from an effluent pond.

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