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Five orchardists fined over illegal water take – Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Over the past two kiwifruit seasons Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council has prosecuted five orchardists for illegally taking more than 100 million litres of water. All pleaded guilty to the charges relating to the unlawful takes at their orchard.

Regulatory Compliance Manager, Matt Harrex, says resource consents provide important protection to our natural environment and across all of these prosecutions the orchardists have ignored this requirement.

“Clamping down on Illegal water takes has been a been a significant focus for Regional Council for the past ten years. We’ve spent a lot of time working with industry to educate growers that anything above the daily permitted water take requires resource consent. For the most part growers are doing the right thing with over 1,000 resource consents for water takes granted over the last decade.

“Depending on variables such as soil, rainfall and field capacity, at least 40m³ of water may be required each day to irrigate one hectare of kiwifruit canopy in the heat of summer. This is more than the permitted daily take of 35m3 per day, and orchards are generally a lot bigger than one hectare, so it’s always disappointing to come across those that are aware of the need to apply for resource consent but have made a conscious decision to take the water anyway,” says Mr Harrex.

In the Woodlands Orchards sentencing decision Judge Kirkpatrick says the increasing demand for water in the Bay of Plenty is placing pressure on streams, rivers, springs and groundwater.

“Over-abstraction of groundwater can degrade groundwater quality and reduce water levels in aquifer systems and associated surface waterbodies,” says Judge Kirkpatrick.

A summary of recent prosecutions we’ve taken in relation to illegal water takes for use at an orchard, and the fines they have been issued, are listed below. Fines are set by the district court judge. You can read the full sentencing decisions here.

  • 2 February 2024, Bay of Plenty Regional Council v Maniatutu Heights Limited. Total fine of $33,500 for taking almost 8 million litres more than would have been allowed as a permitted activity.
  • 29 November 2023, Bay of Plenty Regional Council v Woodland Orchards Limited. Total fine of $42,000 for taking more then 24, million litres more than would have been allowed as a permitted activity.
  • 29 November 2023, Bay of Plenty Regional Council v Peter Stewart Holdings Limited. Total fine of $42,000 for taking more than 25 million litres more than would have been allowed as a permitted activity.
  • 13 December 2023, Bay of Plenty Regional Council v David Grant THOMAS. Total fine of $42,000 for taking approximately 26 million litres more than would have been allowed as a permitted activity.
  • 10 November 2023, Bay of Plenty Regional Council v Terahu Orchard Limited. Total fine of $35,000 for taking approximately 18 million litres more than would have been allowed as a permitted activity.

 

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