Repeatedly taking water from a council fire hydrant has come back to bite a land restoration company after it was hauled before the courts.
Evergreen Landcare, which has branches around New Zealand including Hastings and Auckland, was warned three times not to take water from Hamilton City Council fire hydrants before charges were finally laid.
Nobody from the company appeared in the Hamilton District Court this morning, instead its managing director Hamish Cunningham wrote a letter pleading guilty to one charge of breaching the Hamilton City Water Supply Bylaw 2013.
Community magistrate Ngaire Mascelle took into account Cunningham's apology and the fact he had given his staff more training and advised them of their legal obligations.
Court documents state that Evergreen did have a permit to take from the council's water supply, but it expired on October 5, 2017 and was not renewed.
The council was then told that Evergreen staff were seen extracting water into the company's water tanker from a fire hydrant on Graham St on October 16.
A council inspector approached the two staff members who said they didn't know if they had a permit but were told by their boss to fill up at hydrants because that was what they normally did.
They were then told it was illegal to take water without a permit and that it couldn't be taken from fire hydrants.
The crew then packed up their hose and hose pipe as they had just finished filling up their tanker.
The company was informed of the breach on October 20. The company replied six days later that it would get a permit "as soon as it had been signed off".
Council lawyer James Gurnick said Evergreen had been warned on three previous occasions about illegally taking water from city fire hydrants - October 2014, March 2016 and April 2016.
He suggested a fine between $1500 and $2000 would be appropriate.
Gurnick said the company was not obliged to appear in person as it was a category 1, or minor, offence.
Mascelle convicted the company, fining it $1800 and also ordered it to pay council costs of $226 and court costs of $130.
Speaking after the sentencing, Cunningham said he thought the outcome was fair and that he had put new systems in place to ensure the breaches didn't happen again.
"We now have a new general manager to get better systems in place because as we've grown it's been harder to manage. We've had new systems in place so that the staff are well aware of their obligations as well."
The company had since renewed a permit to take from the council's water supply, he said.