The best designed effluent systems aren’t immune from human errors and break-downs which can lead to accidental discharges in the wrong place.
That doesn’t make it right but it could be a mitigating factor if damage is done.
However, if the facts of this case as reported are true, it doesn’t look like an accident:
Lloyd disconnected an open pipe from a blocked irrigator and placed it under trees nearby, allowing the effluent to discharge for four days before the pipe was found by Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff.
Unfortunately this enables opponents of dairying to tar all farmers with the same dirty brush.