Investigation and enforcement

The NRAR investigates alleged non-compliance to ensure that there is appropriate evidence for the non-compliance. A graduated and proportionate approach to non-compliance is employed, based on the severity of the non-compliance (its impact on the environment and potential harm to people or property) and the regulated entity’s culpability, cooperation and approach to the non-compliance.

We have a team of investigators and compliance officers across the state to actively patrol the use of surface and ground water and respond to alerts of possible water theft or misuse.

The NRAR has a range of responses to non-compliance including, in increasing severity:

  • advisory letters
  • warnings (written and verbal)
  • cautions
  • corrective action requests
  • statutory directions such as stop work orders, directions to install meters and remediation notices
  • enforceable undertakings
  • penalty infringement notices (PIN)
  • civil action, such as:
    • debiting a water licence holder’s account by up to five times the amount of water taken, or
    • imposing a penalty of up to five times the value of the water taken
  • licence action (including suspension, variation or cancellation)
  • prosecution.

These regulatory responses allow a balanced approach to non-compliance which stops the improper conduct and promotes changes in attitudes and behaviours, rather than simply applying a punishment. However, the NRAR will take strong enforcement action when required.

Decisions and determinations

The NRAR has the authority to determine, subject to legal advice, whether enforcement actions under natural resources management legislation should be commenced.

Decisions regarding enforcement actions are made in accordance with the principles set out in the Regulatory Policy, and where appropriate, the Prosecution Guidelines

Value of water illegally taken

Under section 60G of the Water Management Act 2000 and clause 20 of the Water Management (General) Regulations 2018, the minister may charge for water illegally taken. Trading price data for the purpose of calculating the value of water illegally taken is published on the NSW Water Register.

Fact sheets and FAQs