Water regulator marks first anniversary with an 80 percent increase in cases finalised

Media release | 2 July 2019

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is marking its first year by increasing the numbers of boots on the ground and dramatically increasing water investigation rates.

The 2019-20 NSW Budget allocated an additional $5.1million to NRAR so they can continue their important work, ensuring fair management of water across the state.

The NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, said community confidence in the work they do means they have received over 4000 hotline calls or emails to date ­– an average of 12 a day. 773 of these being breach allegations.

“When we took over the state’s water regulation on 30 April 2018, we inherited 483 cases of alleged breaches from previous water regulation agencies. We’re working our way through these cases, with only 30 remaining,” Mr Barnes said.

NRAR compliance outcomes:

  • 70% more cases received for investigation.
  • 80% more cases finalised.
  • 5x as many allegations of unlawful water take received.
  • 4x as many directions issued to landholders to remove unlawful water management works.
  • 3x the number of penalty notices issued.
  • 2x the number of cases received for investigation and the number finalised both doubled in the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • A third more cases received and a quarter more cases finalised in the state’s Northern Rivers region.
  • Nine prosecutions in court, with three guilty verdicts.

“We’ve achieved a lot in our first year, we hit the ground running and we will not slow down when it comes to protecting the state’s precious water resources.

“We have doubled our initial complement of 73 officers, the majority of NRAR’s 145 staff are on the front line undertaking licensing, targeted investigations, monitoring and auditing across the state.

“Educating and helping water users comply with water laws when out in the field is just as important as the enforcement work we do, especially during drought.”

“While we are very proud of what we have achieved so far, we know that there is plenty more to do and we are just getting started. However we can’t do this alone. With the cooperation of water users and the community we will ensure fair and equitable use of our precious water resources,” Mr Barnes said.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said NSW has surpassed the other states on water compliance regulation and is now setting the standards everyone needs to follow.

“The NSW Government’s current reforms, and the introduction of the NRAR a year ago, means we now have the strongest water compliance and enforcement system in the country with a zero tolerance for water theft.

“I met with the NRAR team and they will continue to focus on making sure the compliance of our most precious resource is transparent and fair. This is especially important when so many in our regional communities are doing it tough,” Minister Pavey said.

The NRAR was brought in under the NSW Government’s water reform and is delivering a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance system aiming to prevent water theft.

For further information about NRAR and what it does, visit the Natural Resources Access Regulator website. To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au.

Natural Resources Access Regulator officers visit Moree.

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