NRAR finds non-compliance in 17 Coffs horticulture operations

Media release | 10 November 2020

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has released the results of Phase 3 of its intensive horticulture compliance campaign in Coffs Harbour.

The NSW water regulator found 89 per cent (17 of 19) of the intensive horticulture properties inspected in Phase 3 of this campaign to be allegedly non-compliant with the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

Graeme White, Director of Water Regulation (East) said although this marks the end of this compliance campaign, the regulator will continue its work in the area.

“These results indicate horticultural operations in Coffs Harbour have work to do to bring their operations into compliance,” said Mr. White.

“We will continue to inspect properties in the area and expect water users to know the rules and to comply with them.”

Following these investigations, NRAR took a total of 20 enforcement actions.

To date, NRAR has issued:

  • 9 penalty infringement notices
  • 2 legal directions to remove unlawful works
  • 1 stop work order to prohibit the use of an unauthorised work
  • 1 official caution
  • 2 formal warnings
  • 5 advisory letters

Twelve properties were found to have oversized dams ranging from 1.3 to 20.4 times greater than the allowable size. This equated to 77 megalitres of unauthorised water storage. One property is still under active investigation.

NRAR’s officers also found unauthorised bores and pumps, and most operators with a licence failed to keep appropriate records of their water.

“We’ve engaged with industry groups and water users in the area at each phase of this campaign to help them achieve compliance,” said Mr. White.

“Taking water unlawfully is unfair to your fellow waters users and to the environment, so strong action is needed to hold wilful offenders to account.”

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website Go to ‘Reports and data’, then ‘NRAR Public Register’.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email For more information about NRAR and what it does, visit visit

Phase 3 of NRAR's intensive horticulture compliance campaign in Coffs Harbour.