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) Regulation 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. Trading price data means data about assignments of water allocations between access licences occurring in any month, but not any other dealings.

Below are data extracts from the NSW Water Register of water allocation trading price data since 2013-14, for the purpose of calculating the value of water illegally taken. The trading of water allocations, being the water allocation under a water access licence available to be traded in a water year is known as a water allocation assignment in the NSW Water Register. The data extracts below will be updated monthly to display recent trading price data.

Note: The water trading information contained in the data extracts shows all registered allocation trades within NSW (including interstate trades). This data is directly extracted from the NSW Water Register database and is unverified.

Data extracts

Fact sheets and FAQs