Does a rural council that provides stock water in an open race and charges each farmer as a part of their annual rates demand have to (a) supply water that is drinkable by the stock? and (b) actually supply the water that is being paid for?Is the council answerable to the Consumer Guarantees Act?The farm I am dealing with has one race that has had no water at all since January with no explanation from the council and the other water race which serves most of the farm has had recorded levels of Ecoli at 700 where the acceptable level for human consumption is 0 and the max level for stock in Canada is 200. There doesn't appear to be an upper limit for stock in NZ but this water is classed as stock water and at present the sheep will not drink it. They prefer water in puddles in gateways after rain or they just dont drink.Can this farmer deduct the water rate from his rates?
As this farmer is dyslexic (doesn't read or write) I am doing this on his behalf.
He has spoken to several people at the local council without any results.
He feels like a little goldfish in a very big pond ie. he has no clout.
Hi Welcome to JustAnswer. My first response will follow shortly. Please feel free to follow up if anything is not clear
To help me in answering this, do you know if your local Council provides the water in terms of resolutions or whether there is a specific water permit in relation to this open race?
This has some interesting issues. For example the Health Act says-
(1)Where the medical officer of health certifies in writing to a local authority that any watercourse, stream, lake, or other source of water supply, or any portion thereof, under the control of that local authority for the purposes of this Act is so polluted that the water therein or therefrom is dangerous to health, the local authority shall forthwith cease to supply or permit to be used for domestic purposes any water from that source or portion thereof, as the case may be, and shall not supply or permit to be used any such water so long as the certificate of the medical officer of health remains in force.
(2)Any certificate by a medical officer of health under this section may be at any time revoked as soon as the medical officer of health is satisfied that the water from the source or portion thereof referred to in the certificate is no longer dangerous to health.
The problem with deducting money from rates is that the liability for rates is absolute under the Rating Powers Act, and you are not entitled to offset issues like this against the payment of rates. However you may want to get the medical officer of health involved, because there is clearly potential for harm to people as well as animals.
I am inclined to think the issue may be a breach of statutory duty by the local authority to supply water of appropriate quality.
I cannot see the reply yet
Thankyou for your information. It seems the Rating Powers Act over-rides the Consumer Guarantees Act.
In reply to your query about our local council's policy on stock water races,it is all included in the district plan and to yhr best of our knowledge there is no specific water right. Neither does the plan include anything about water quality. There does not appear to be a maximum standard for Ecoli in stock water in NZ. We have
decided to pay the current rates demand and follow up with our concerns to maybe get a refund! This farmer has been breeding stud sheep (following his father) on this property since 1935 but is now finding that his stock are suffering due to the polluted water. These animals are worth a lot more than commercial flocks and sales of the rams form the greatest part of his income. Consequently he has gone to great expense to find an alternative to the water the council are charging him for.
Does he have a case against the council?
I have an old computer and have been finding it difficult to access your replies. is it possible to send them in a simpler format?
Thankyou for your time
Perhaps another route is to establish that there is some negligence on the part of the council, causing the health problems for the sheep. If the council supplies the water and charges for this, they must provide water which is of the appropriate standard. Establishing a duty of care, and that such a duty is owed to the farmers, may not be easy
So what is our next move?
I suggest that you start by getting information from the council via the Official Information Act. Ask about the water and any checks made. Then perhaps some expert advice about the effect of the poor quality on the animals. Then follow with a polite suggestion that the council must improve the quality, and that you have evidence of negligence, and will be looking at compensation.
He has contacted many different sources to find a solution but has hit a brick wall. The pollution is coming from dairy farms that have been set up in the last few years and are up stream from his farm. He is the only farmer on the race system who breeds stud stock. The others are mostly cows with some cropping farmers buying in sheep to fatten so they are only on farm for a short time. Dairy farming around here now is "God"! And brings the council a lot in rates hence the feeling of being a small fish in a big pond
Thanks we can try that.
option, but could be a suggestion to the council as a solution
There may be technical solutions too. There are ways of cleaning the water further, but this may not be an econ
LLB MMgt FAMINZ 32 years qualified as lawyer
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