Landowners from Walgett area face string of charges in Land and Environment Court

Media release | 22 April 2020

Two landholders from the Walgett area will face 14 charges in the Land and Environment Court for breaches of water laws in 2016 and 2017.

A total of 13 of the charges are for allegedly taking water outside their conditions of approval on the Barwon River in July 2016 and April 2017. These conditions of approval relate to protecting important flows in the river. Taking water in contravention of terms and conditions of approval is an offence under Section 91G(2) of the Water Management Act 2000.

The last charge is for allegedly failing to comply with a direction to install a pattern-approved meter. This is an offence under s336C(1) of the Act.

The first directions hearing will be on 22 May 2020.

The case is the 20th court prosecution brought by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) since it was formed two years ago in April 2018. This is almost triple the prosecution rate of those allegedly breaching water laws of the two years prior to NRAR’s establishment.

NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the extent of the offending was one of the reasons the case reached the point of prosecution.

“NSW has faced its worst drought on record in which it is essential that water is shared fairly and protected for critical human needs,” Mr Barnes said.

“Preserving flows in the Barwon River is vital to maintaining water quality and native fish and aquatic animal populations along the length of the river, as well as supporting breeding activity.”

Mr Barnes added that due to the critical nature of NRAR’s work, its officers were continuing to monitor potentially unlawful water use during the COVID-19 response period, while observing all NSW Health recommendations to ensure the safety of both water users and NRAR staff.

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000.

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000.

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au. For more information about NRAR and what it does, visit industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar.

Barwon River meter pump breach