NRAR’s latest quarterly report highlights breaches in south-western border

Media release | 14 December 2021

The NSW water regulator issued six fines in the Wentworth area between July and September 2021.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator’s (NRAR) newly released quarterly report shows the Wentworth local government area (LGA) had the second-highest number of penalty infringement notices (PINs) in NSW, only surpassed by Coffs Harbour.

Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said in one matter a Wentworth-based landholder was fined a total of $2,250 for taking water otherwise than in accordance with their access licences.

“The breach was discovered during an NRAR audit and is another reminder to landholders that overdrawn water accounts are one of our regulatory priorities,” Ms Ruddock said.

“NRAR imposed three fines on the water user for overdrawing water from the NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers Water Source between July 2018 and mid-September 2021.”

“The total negative balance of 437.3ML could fill nearly 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

"We assess each case on its own merits. The landholder had misunderstood their limit so we decided against imposing a higher penalty."

Under Section 60G of the Water Management Act, NRAR can charge up to five times the price of water taken unlawfully.

“For example, the cost of water in the NSW Murray Regulated River water source was $130 per ML in July 2021.”

“Under the section 60G provisions, if a water user took 400ML at that time they’d be facing a hefty bill of between $52,000 and $260,000!”

“Our message is clear, it’s an offence to go into debit on your water accounts at any time and all water users need to know the rules so that they can play by them.”

“Be warned that repeat and deliberate offending won’t be tolerated and may result in NRAR imposing higher charges.”

“Any landholder who is uncertain about their account status can view their allocations and account balances, place meter reads and order water through the WaterNSW Online Water Accounting System - iWAS,” Ms Ruddock said.

In the July to September quarter, NRAR inspected a total of 606 properties in NSW bringing the total number of inspections in the first nine months of this year to 3,761.

There were 152 enforcement actions across NSW, bringing the yearly total to 380.

In addition to the six PINs issued in the Wentworth LGA during the July to September quarter, NRAR:

  • finalised 36 investigations;
  • commenced 21 investigations; and,
  • issued two formal warnings

NRAR’s digital reporting tool divides NSW into 14 water management regions: Barwon-Darling and West, Murrumbidgee, Murray, Clyde, Lachlan, Macquarie-Castlereagh, Namoi, Gwydir, Border Rivers, North Coast, Far North Coast, Hunter, Central Coast, and Greater metro.

For more information about how compliant your area was with NSW water laws in the past quarter, visit: NRAR’s quarterly compliance dashboard.