A Southland tulip business has been fined for unlawfully taking about 3.6 million litres of water during what was described as the region's driest year since 1971.
Horizon Flowers New Zealand Ltd was fined $53,400 in the Environment Court on two charges of unlawfully taking water and one charge of breaching an abatement notice.
On December 1, 2017, Environment Southland granted a resource consent to the company allowing it to extract water from Winton Stream.
At the time, the region was experiencing drought conditions and under a condition of the consent, water was not to be taken when levels of the Otapiri Stream and Oreti River were below specific figures.
However, on December 4, 2017, regional council officers found the company had taken a total of 3636 cubic metres of water, or 3,636,000 litres, over two days when flow rates had fallen the specified figures.
The extraction also breached an abatement notice issued by Environment Southland on November 27, 2017; the company had been found taking water from the Winton Stream without a resource consent.