Orange Falcon swoops on West

Media release | 30 August 2019

A targeted campaign by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) this month investigated 60 alleged breaches of water laws, resulting in 36 actions taken.

The 16 officers involved in Operation Orange Falcon travelled more than 9000km, visiting 46 locations across the state’s central west and surrounds between 28 July and 3 August.

The campaign targeted regulatory priorities in the Murray-Darling Basin regions of Murray and Lower Darling, Gwydir, Barwon–Darling, Macquarie and Murrumbidgee.

Locations visited included Canowindra, Forbes, Cowra, Orange, Bathurst, Yetholme, Gulgong, Mudgee, Dubbo, Narromine, Wellington, Coonamble, Coonabarabran and Frog Rock.

Water take, controlled activities and floodworks were the main allegations investigated. From these, the officers identified a potential prosecution, and issued:

  • 10 penalty notices
  • 1 official caution
  • 3 directions
  • 9 warning letters
  • 13 advisory letters.

NRAR’s Director Regional Water Regulation (West-Murray Darling), Graeme White, said the locations visited were in response to notifications of alleged breaches of water laws.

“The fact the state is struggling through one of the worst droughts on record means that ensuring fair access to water for regional communities, water users and the environment is even more critical,” Mr White said.

“In times of scarce supply every drop counts. NRAR’s role in ensuring compliance with water laws is more important than ever and we will continue to have boots on the ground in key areas.”

He said NRAR has never hesitated to employ strong regulatory responses where appropriate, assessing alleged breaches as part of its compliance and enforcement work across NSW.

“These programs are guided by NRAR’s regulatory priorities and are designed not only to detect instances of non-compliance but to prevent it as well by ensuring water users are aware of their obligations for accessing and using water,” he said.

Operation Orange Falcon is just the latest campaign for NRAR, with targeted operations underway or finalised in the Coffs Harbour, Hawkesbury and Peel River areas as well.

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 57 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email For more information about NRAR and what it does, visit natural-resources-access-regulator.