NRAR commences largest prosecution against a Moree irrigator
Media release | 12 May 2021
The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has commenced a prosecution against a Moree irrigation company with a record 43 charges against the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act) for allegedly taking water while metering equipment wasn’t operating properly.
Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said the alleged offences took place between February 2016 and July 2018. She said the regulator will hold those who willfully breach the state’s water laws to account.
“While the majority of water users want to do the right thing, there are a minority who willfully and recklessly disregard the state’s water laws,” Ms Ruddock said.
“Taking water unlawfully is not worth the risk. We have officers on the ground across the state and we use innovative technology including satellite imagery and drones to ensure we have a robust understanding of how water is being used across NSW.
“When wrongdoers take water unlawfully, they’re taking water away from their community and the environment. Serious, substantiated and willful acts of non-compliance will face the full force of the law.”
The regulator alleges the company took water while metering equipment was not operating properly, constructed and took water through an unlawful dam, and took water in excess of its water allocation.
Summary of the charges:
- Thirty-nine of the charges fall under section 91I(1) of the WM Act and relate to allegedly taking water from the Gwydir River while metering equipment was not operating properly between September 2016 and February 2018.
- The company also faces two charges under section 91B(1) of the WM Act:
- The first for allegedly constructing an unlawful dam without holding an approval, between February and March 2016.
- The second for allegedly using the unlawful dam without holding an approval, between July 2016 and June 2018.
- The company faces one charge under section 60C(8) of the WM Act for allegedly taking water from the Gwydir River in excess of combined water allocation for access licences, between July 2017 and June 2018. NRAR alleges the company took at least 600 megalitres of water in excess of its licence allocation.
- Additionally, the company has been charged with one count under section 60A(4) of the WM Act for allegedly taking water from the Gwydir River in breach of its licence conditions, between July 2016 and June 2017. NRAR alleges the company took 1,200 megalitres of water in excess of its licence allocation.
If found guilty of section 91I(1), the company faces the highest penalty of up to $2,000,200 for each offence. For the remaining offences, the company faces the maximum penalty of $1,000,100.
The matter is listed before the Land and Environment Court on 11 June 2021.
To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar. Go to ‘Reports and data’, then ‘NRAR Public Register’.
To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.