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The ponding of effluent following irrigation. Photo: SUPPLIED/WRC

Court case results in $70,000 fine

A Waikato farmer has been convicted on two charges and fined $70,000 in Te Awamutu District Court for the unlawful discharge of dairy effluent into the environment and contravention of an Abatement Notice.
The charges relate to an incident on a Waitakaruru dairy farm in September, 2020.
Douglas Villers Torr was sentenced by district court Judge Brian Dwyer on December 12, following a defended hearing in November and a failed application for a discharge without conviction.
His conviction on two charges under the Resource Management Act was as a result of a prosecution taken by Waikato Regional Council.

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Responding to a complaint on September 12, 2020, council officers conducted a compliance inspection at Torr’s farm property and found him in the process of pumping out the contents of his effluent pond onto a paddock using a stationary irrigator.
He told the officers he had been irrigating effluent in the same paddock for a number of days.
Mr Torr was causing significant ponding of thick effluent sludge and liquid over a wide area. This activity posed a threat of contamination to groundwater and also contravened an Abatement Notice that had been served on Torr in 2017 following an earlier dairy effluent related offence.
“This has been a particularly disappointing case,” said Waikato Regional Council compliance manager Patrick Lynch.
“Mr Torr has simply not accepted that his actions posed a real risk of contaminating the environment. He ignored the very clear warning he had been given in 2017 and then required a lengthy court case, where expert witnesses were needed, to give evidence to establish this risk.”