A Waikato farming company and its director have been handed a $116,000 fine over unlawfully discharging dairy effluent into the environment.
Inspections carried out by Waikato Regional Council staff looking into the farms' effluent systems found that two of the five Fonterra supply farms owned by Nagra Farms Limited and its director, Naginder Singh, were identified as having dairy effluent breaches.
Investigations also revealed that the effluent management systems on the farms, based in Gordontown, near Hamilton, were inadequate and unable to safely contain the amount being produced.
Small and unsealed storage facilities were also found overflowing, as well as large volumes of effluent ponded on paddocks from over-irrigation. All of the discharges posed a significant risk of contaminating groundwater.
A farm manager on one of the farms, Nikolai van den Einden, was also sentenced to 12 months supervision for breaches to the Resource Management Act and ordered to attend a dairy effluent management course.
"This is a large fine and sends a very clear message," council investigations manager Patrick Lynch said.
"A fine of $116,000, as well as the convictions for the company and director, has to be seen as a sign the court is losing patience with those remaining farmers who, quite simply, are causing environmental harm.
"I am sure the rest of the dairy industry, as well as the wider community, who are working hard to improve the environment, are extremely disappointed with the farmer in this case, as he will be seen to be undoing the good work of so many."