Narrabri irrigator fined over unlawful water take

Media release | 7 December 2021

A Narrabri based landholder has been fined $10,000 following prosecution by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) for alleged breaches of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

The irrigator appeared in Narrabri Local Court on three separate charges related to exceeding the extraction limit attached to a works approval by more than 1200 megaliters (ML) over a three-year period (2017-2020).

In addition to the fine, the magistrate made a publication order and directed the farmer to pay $9,476.20 in court costs.

Grant Barnes, Chief Regulatory Officer at NRAR welcomed the outcome of the case which was the independent water watchdog’s 30th prosecution.

“Water is a finite resource which must be managed effectively and there’s a need for strict compliance with the regulatory scheme,” Mr Barnes said.

“These particular offences occurred over an extended period of time during a severe drought.”

“To make matters worse, the water was taken from the Lower Namoi Groundwater source which is an at-risk source where the water in it is declining.”

“Extraction limits are put in place to protect vulnerable water sources and ensure there is enough water left in the system for the rest of the community and the environment.”

“The message is clear - if you break the rules, NRAR will take action,” Mr Barnes said.

For a summary of NRAR’s completed prosecutions visit its website