Dairy pollution in a protected Wild River

The Fishing News reported last year that:

The Mohaka River has to be the jewel in the crown of Hawkes Bay trout fisheries, yet the upper reaches of this magnificent river are in decline due mainly to intense dairy farming and the subsequent effluent run-off.

One of its tributaries is the Taharua River, into which flows pollution from a large industrial dairy farm – a famous one in fact. Taharua Ltd’s owner Crafarms has been convicted multiple times, with the most recent just a fortnight ago.

To illustrate the effect of dairy pollution on waterways, a Hawke’s Bay Fish and Game officer has posted this video showing the change in water quality of the Mohaka River above and below where the Taharua flows into it.

As Baybuzz wrote yesterday:

The source? This small area [the Taharua catchment] is home to a third of the [HB] region’s total dairy herd, some 9,000 dairy cows. Saturate a free-draining pumice soil with that many cows and the situation is right for the increased nutrient levels observed in the upper reaches of the river. …

[Fish and Game officer] Maxwell notes that the Mohaka is the only river in Hawke’s Bay supposedly protected by a Water Protection Order, yet it appears to be deteriorating … in part because the Regional Council lacks the appropriate mechanisms in its Resource Management Plan to regulate the land use that is the suspected cause.

The solution? Upping pollution fines – one positive part of National’s first RMA Bill. Strengthening the RMA – the opposite to what the RMA Bill does. Strengthening and expanding Water Conservation Orders. And some political will to back up Ministers’ bark with some bite.

14 thoughts on “Dairy pollution in a protected Wild River

  1. $37,500 is small change to a farming operation of this size. A fine 10 times as great is more realistic. Then it would register in their avaricious minds that they’re doing “sumfink wrong”.

  2. Upping pollution fines must be followed with a strict regulations and implementation of the official involved. Make sure they pay for all the damage they’ve done.

  3. Where are the sensible sentencing trust when we need them. These polluters should be in PRISON

  4. What use is a fine when these agri-business outfits shell out as if they were buying a cup of coffee.

    The only language these people understand is;
    (1) prison and (2) confiscation of property.

    Would not a “Queens chain” kind of law go a long way to protect rivers?
    I have posed this question before on Frogblog;
    What has happened to the QC?
    Has it been replaced by riparian rights? Because if that is the case then the environment is in very serious danger and the RMA will be ineffective.

  5. Now that the Man from Fonterra is in charge of New Zealand’s water quality, this terrible situation will be remedied quick smart! .

    Farmers – they’re all environmentalists!

    (It’s a well known Fed Farmers spun FACT!)

  6. Where are the sensible sentencing trust when we need them. These polluters should be in PRISON

    Where are they? As I understand the connections, the SST’s legal team and partners are busy lobbying to make it easier for large foreign corporations to buy large chunks of NZ….

  7. $37,500 is small change to a farming operation of this size. A fine 10 times as great is more realistic.

    Making it a fine (of any size) makes it a “It’s just money” economic decision.

    probability of getting caught * (Size of fine * (1 – probability of getting away with it) + cost of weaseling lawyer to help you get away with) vs cost of cleaning up

    Given the probability of getting caught is very low, and the probabilty of getting away with it is high, and the cost of clean up is very high… and both are smallish compared to the turnover of such a business…

    Couple that with businessmen are fundamentally optimists that naturally “feel lucky” and who have a strong attitude (just ask Blue Peter) that if only the gubbmint would go away and stop bothering them, all will be well….

  8. I agree with JC the only language they understand is:

    PRISON AND CONFISCATION OF LAND.

    Fines are only usefull to settle expences of the victims

  9. It appears to me that legislation has been watered down over the years regardless of the good intentions of the RMA.

    If the public have to apply to the MOC for a Water Conservation Order then it only stands to reason that there is confusion in this area, the unscrupulous are taking advantage of this and we are seeing the results.

    In the eighties we used to hear a lot about the Queens Chain: Is that not when one chain each side of a river, stream and waterway are in public ownership?

    Isn’t the Riparian Rights when a land owner owns right to the centre of the stream, river etc.? I know for a fact that some farmers have RR and others don’t.

    I don’t think applying to the ministry for a Water Conservation Order is the answer.

    Acquisition of lands one chain either side of waterways would go a long way to protect the environment but sadly there doesn’t seem to be any political will with this regime.

    I would like to get a legal perspective on this as I suspect that there has been a lot of argy bargy going on.

  10. The strange thing is that the Mohaka river is the only one in the area of hawke’s Bay that is protected by the laws of Water Protection Order. It is claimed that the Regional Council does not have the means to stop the farm from doing what it does to the river, and so the pollution will continue. However, one may suggest that the perfect solution with the most chances of succeeding, is to punish the farm owners with higher pollution fines, and to have Water Conservation Orders extend. In addition to the higher fines, I would recommend that the government will make up some new strict regulations about crimes against the environment.
    שירותים משפטיים

  11. Our world is getting more and more advanced with every day that passes, this advancement and the technological improvements put aside the importance of nature. If people will continue to treat nature in such a horrible way, we will cease to survive as well. We must start and act in order to save our planet, and remember that we are a part of it as well. These actions against nature and environment are shocking and must be stopped. It is a shame to let such a stunning piece of nature go to waste.

  12. The Mohaka River is probably the most beautiful place in Hawkes Bay trout fisheries. However, we understand that this river is now highly polluted because of that well known industrial dairy farm which has already been convicted of its crime against nature before, but as noted, this has not helped yet.
    I can see that the change seen in the water of the river is extremely horrifying.
    How is it possible that they still continue with their horrible actions ?
    The animals living in the water suffer greatly from the pollution and no one seems to care enough !

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