NRAR returns to Coffs Harbour to build on improving compliance

Media release | 11 February 2021

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) will return to Coffs Harbour this month to check compliance levels.

Graeme White, Director of Water Regulation (East), NRAR said he expects to find higher levels of compliance in the area after running an extensive campaign in 2019-20.

“When we visited properties in Coffs Harbour between 2019 and 2020, we found alarmingly high levels of noncompliance (88 per cent),” said Mr White.

“Coffs Harbour is a priority area and we have worked hard to provide information and guidance to make it easier for water users to understand and follow the rules. We are encouraged by a 54 per cent increase in compliance.”

Compliance rates increased from 12 per cent to 66 per cent.

This year, NRAR will focus on oversized dams, bores used for irrigation and record keeping. In addition to checking compliance, the field officers will also help water users understand the laws around dams, basic landholder right bores, pumps and pumping logbooks.

“We’ve run an intensive campaign geared towards increasing awareness and understanding of the rules and expect compliance rates to be much higher in Coffs this year,” Mr White said.

“NRAR arranged meetings with industry and community groups, attended a local field day, provided educational materials to landholders, supplied information to industry publications and followed up landholders after inspections by phone and email.

“If we find landholders breaking the rules, we won’t shy away from enforcing the law. We hope our continued presence in Coffs will reinforce how important it is for water users to do the right thing.

"Water is for everyone, but the system only works when we all follow the rules.”

The water regulator used satellite imagery and drones as well as public reports and local compliance history to identify Coffs Harbour properties which it considers to be high risk for inspection this month.

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’ licenses and the WM Act.

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 nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au.