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How to stop illegal water activities

While most water users follow the rules and meet legal requirements, some people carry out illegal water activities. Sometimes these actions are deliberate and sometimes they happen due to ignorance of the law.

Water theft and harming a water source can threaten water supplies for legitimate water users and harm the environment. They are serious crimes.

To make a confidential report on any suspicious activities, contact the Natural Resources Access Regulator:

mouse icon report suspicious activity

You can also play a role in water compliance and help stop illegal water activities by informing the Natural Resources Access Regulator of any suspicious activities or circumstances, such as:

  • pumping from a stream during periods when pumping is not permitted
  • water flow in a river suddenly stopping
  • a dam or earthworks being constructed in a creek or river
  • water being diverted from a creek or river
  • healthy looking crops when pumping is banned
  • water carriers replenishing from rivers or creeks.

Information we need

To investigate an alleged compliance breach, it is helpful if you can provide us with the following information:

  • the type of activity
  • the time, date and location of the activity
  • the name of the person who is undertaking the activity, or a description of the person
  • a description, registration numbers and type of any vehicles or plant involved
  • any other information you think could be relevant.

How we will handle your report

All reports received are recorded in a database. An NRAR officer then prioritises the matter based on the seriousness and urgency of the matter based on the information in the report.

Further investigation may be conducted following the prioritisation process and this may involve a site inspection and collecting information from the landholder and / or licence holder.

During an investigation, authorised officers will gather evidence to establish whether an offence has occurred, the identity of the person(s) who may be responsible and any harm deemed to be caused by the breach.

If, after full investigation, it is considered that a breach has occurred, the NRAR will take appropriate action depending on the circumstances and significance of the breach.

Enforcement measures include warning letters, penalty notices, civil penalties, stop work orders, remediation notices, licence and approval suspension or cancellation, and prosecution.

Confidentiality

The NRAR handles all information in accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.

If you have provided a postal or email address in your report, you will receive an acknowledgement letter or email from us.

You may be contacted by an NRAR officer conducting the risk assessment if they need more information to assist the risk assessment.

If a matter is investigated, the investigating officer may contact you and, if you agree, may take a witness statement. If the matter proceeds to court the witness statement may be made available to the alleged offender if it forms part of the NRAR’s case.

Reporting water pollution

The NRAR is not the regulator for water pollution events. For information on how to report water pollution contact the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).