NRAR finds solution to protect natural streams in Moree Plains

Media release | 8 November 2021

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has helped to protect environmental flows in the Gwydir River system, by finding a solution to address a landholder’s alleged unlicensed water take.

After the case came before the Land and Environment Court of NSW (LEC), NRAR directed the landholder to build temporary earth embankments to prevent water from the natural streams entering the dams, under section 329 of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, is pleased with the result.

“Through mediation, NRAR worked with the landholder and WaterNSW to action the Court’s request to find a solution,” Ms Ruddock said.

“The proceedings have resulted, and will continue to result, in positive outcomes for the environment and water regulation.”

NRAR alleges the landholder had three dams that collected water from streams in Moree Plains, while the landholder had no access licence for that water source.

One of the landholder’s dams allegedly collected water from a stream that could support local fish species such as Murray cod, silver perch or golden perch.

The dams have a combined capacity of approximately 5000 megalitres, which is equivalent to 2000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Previously, NRAR issued the landholder with two stop work orders in relation to the alleged unlawful use of the three dams, under s327(2) of the WM Act.

The landholder appealed against the stop work orders and the case came before the LEC early this year.

After a partial hearing and Court-initiated onsite inspection, the Court asked the landholder and NRAR, with WaterNSW, to find a solution through mediation.

As part of the solution, the landholder also applied to WaterNSW for approval of the three dams and related structures. WaterNSW will assess the applications and make a determination.

In a separate recent matter, NRAR brought a successful prosecution against an Oberon landholder in Lithgow Local Court.

NRAR initially fined the landholder under s60A(2) of the WM Act for taking water for stock and domestic purposes from Macquarie Bogan water sources without an access licence between 1 and 31 October 2019.

The landholder, however, chose to have the matter heard in Lithgow Local Court instead where he pleaded guilty to the charge.

The offending occurred when NSW was in drought and affected the ability of a neighbour to take stock and domestic water.

The Court fined the landholder and ordered the publication of the case in the Lithgow Mercury and Western Advocate within 28 days.

For more information about NRAR’s prosecutions, visit

To make a confidential report to NRAR on suspected water misuse, visit

Protecting environmental flows in the Gwydir River system.

Protecting environmental flows in the Gwydir River system.