The toilet on Dean Brown's property, which can no longer be flushed following an Environment Court ruling. Picture: Warren Buckland
The toilet on Dean Brown's property, which can no longer be flushed following an Environment Court ruling. Picture: Warren Buckland

Court orders man to stop using toilet

A NEW Zealand man who has been ordered by a court to stop using his toilet says he has been unfairly vilified as a result.

The Environment Court this month issued an enforcement notice against Dean Brown, preventing him from flushing the toilet to his house on the outskirts of Hastings, after the resource consent for his septic system expired in May 2017, Hawke's Bay Today reports.

Mr Brown, from Hawke's Bay,  said it had been made out as if he was poisoning the people of Napier and Hastings, whose drinking water comes from the Heretaunga aquifer, which the septic system sits on top of.

He said his solid waste was filtered out of the system and contained in a tank, which was collected and disposed of separately.

Wastewater, which has been filtered, is then sprinkled on to the grass, Mr Brown said.

"The solids go into one tank, then the water passes over into the central tank, and that does its bubbling and it's got bacteria that clean the water up, and once it's done its final job there, it trickles into the final tank which is pretty much 90 per cent clean water," he said.

Mr Brown said when he bought the property he was unaware the resource consent was about to expire.

He said the Hawke's Bay Regional Council had asked him to make updates to the system, which was going to cost $NZ6000 to $NZ8000, plus the money to obtain resource consent.

HBRC issued an abatement notice in August 2018, and when this was not complied with, an infringement notice in September 2018, to prevent Mr Brown using the septic system.

 

Concrete covers on top of the septic system, which filters out solid waste and turns wastewater into virtually clean water. Picture: Warren Buckland
Concrete covers on top of the septic system, which filters out solid waste and turns wastewater into virtually clean water. Picture: Warren Buckland

 

 

After not hearing from Mr Brown in regards to either notice, the regional council started Environmental Court proceedings, filing for an enforcement notice, unless Mr Brown applied for resource consent by May 1.

Mr Brown acknowledged he had not contacted the council in regards to these notices, but said he had been working towards applying for resource consent.

He said there were several reasons he had not responded directly to council, including a major health scare which landed him in hospital.

"I've submitted to council for all the sets of plans … I've passed those on to my plumbers and my plumbers are doing up a plan for consent."

Principal Environment Court judge Laurie Newhook ruled earlier this month in favour of the regional council.

He said he was concerned about the lack of response from Mr Brown and rather than let the issue linger, in the interest of public health he wanted to resolve the issue.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Group manager Regulation Liz Lambert said it remained happy with the Environment Court decision.

"Part of our role as a regional council is to protect the region's aquifers, which is why we chose to take this action," she said.

HBRC's application for an enforcement notice gave Mr Brown until May 1 to get his resource consent application in, but Mr Newhook decided to enact it immediately.

Mr Brown said since the public court decision, he had received abuse, with people turning up to his house at night - allegedly including members of a New Zealand street gang.

"The Mongrel Mob was out there yelling the other night," he said.

Mr Brown said he and his flatmate were now on edge at night because of people turning up at the house.

Since the ruling, Mr Brown said he had been using a camping toilet.

This article originally appeared on NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission


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