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Published: 2010-09-15 00:00:00

A farm operator has been fined $20,000 and his farm manager sentenced to three months community detention for effluent offending at Te Pahu which seriously polluted a high quality “sensitive” waterway last year.

A witness had described how the Kaniwhaniwha stream – a popular trout fishing waterway - was “flowing green” as a result of the offending last October.

Sentencing in the case was completed late last month in the Hamilton District Court. The son of the farm owners, Elliot Kent, was fined $20,000 by Judge Melanie Harland for permitting the unlawful discharge of effluent to land where it may enter water.

Earlier, his farm manager David Mathias was given three months community detention for the unlawful discharge after Judge Craig Thompson accepted he could not afford a fine and was unsuitable for a sentence of home detention.

In a sentencing minute in the Mathias case, Judge Thompson described how effluent was pumped from a pond to an open ended pipe at the top of a rising piece of ground. From there it had flowed about 100 metres to a farm drain and eventually into the Kaniwhaniwha stream, which is “highly valued for its ecological qualities”.

“The level of pollutants were sufficient to cause serious adverse effects on the ecology of the stream,” Judge Thompson said.

While he said it was probably the case there would be no long-term significant effects “the immediate effect on the receiving environment was serious”.

“It is plainly foreseeable that discharging effluent straight from the end of a pipe at the top of a hill will foreseeably cause major damage…no prudent manager could possibly have thought that this was an appropriate course of action.”

A summary of facts from Environment Waikato, which brought the cases against Kent and Mathias, noted an ongoing series of effluent problems at the property since 2003.