A Hawke's Bay regional councillor said it's "not good enough" that the regional authority which regulates and enforces pollution non-compliance found itself to be guilty of at least one significant breach.
Councillor Neil Kirton expressed concern about the council's own significant non-compliance in relation to a water take lacking a water meter or appropriate bore security installed at the wellhead at a meeting of the Corporate and Strategic Committee on Wednesday.
The HBRC pollution response team is responsible for complaints relating to air, water, land, and coastal pollution which significantly impact the environment.
HBRC compliance manager Nick Zaman acknowledged the team had found the council itself to be non-compliant but said improvements had been made since last year.
"The really significant non-compliance was over a bore. It's not in actual use at the moment.
"We can improve."
However, Kirton said, "Could improve is not good enough.
"It's not good enough that the regulator can be non-compliant like this."
Councillor Rex Graham agreed there was room for improvement, but said he was impressed by the level of enforcement.
"You haven't wimped out," he said.
"It's important we have a tough compliance team."
Councillor Rick Barker said the team's policy focused on bringing about a change in behaviour.
"If that fails then of course we have to go to enforcement."
The majority of consented activity administered by HBRC was compliant, with only 1 per cent seen to be significantly non-compliant.
Within the urban setting, municipal wastewater had the highest rate of non-compliant
Industrial wastewater and effluent discharges were also more non-compliant.
Rurally, the two industries with the highest rates of non-compliance related to a winery discharging wine wastewater over unconfined aquifer and three dairy farms' improper effluent disposal.
An 11 per cent decrease in complaints to the pollution response team has been attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Most of these calls related to discharges to air (63 per cent), followed by land discharges (18 per cent) and surface water (13 per cent).
However, the number of cases requiring enforcement action had also increased, with the number of prosecutions tripling - up from four cases between 2018 and 2019 to 12 prosecutions with 18 charges related to non-compliance between 2019 and 2020.
The council also issued 88 infringement notices, worth a total of $42,200 in fines, most of which related to outdoor burnings.
The team operates a 24-hour hotline where people can report complaints 0800 108 838.