Water licence checkers are on the way

Inspectors will be out and about during December to check that water usage is compliant with the relevant licence.
Inspectors will be out and about during December to check that water usage is compliant with the relevant licence.

Be forewarned that the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) will visit properties in Tenterfield, Goondiwindi, Texas, Mungindi, Tenterfield, Ashford, Glen Innes and Upper Horton in the Border Rivers region in December to observe water management practices.

NRAR's Director Water Regulation West Gregory Abood encouraged landholders in these areas to check their compliance with water laws before the regulator visits their properties.

"The majority of water users want to do the right thing and follow the water laws," he said. "It's a matter of better understanding them.

"We want to ensure water users understand the rules that apply to them and their properties."

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Mr Abood said there are no specific water management practices that are more likely to be misunderstood.

"Each individual or company has set conditions applied to their specific circumstances, licences and approvals. The onus is on the water user to ensure they are compliant with the specific conditions of their licence and/or approval.

"When NRAR officers do come across alleged wilful and significant noncompliance, we immediately initiate a thorough investigation and gather evidence. Depending on the severity of the noncompliance, we will then determine our regulatory response."

For cases where the noncompliance is minimal, accidental and has no negative impact on the natural environment, Mr Abood said officers provide support and feedback to ensure that the individual understands the water laws.

The visits are part of the water regulator's routine monitoring program which commenced last October. The water regulator hopes to gather data on compliance to determine a baseline level of compliance.

"Our routine monitoring program is a renewed effort to expand NRAR's presence across regional NSW and improve our relationship with regional water users," Mr Abood said.

"We are harnessing the power of people and putting more boots on the ground."

NRAR currently employs almost 30 routine monitoring field officers across regional NSW to check in on water management practices and provide additional support to landholders.

Mr Abood said as an independent water regulator the NRAR is responsible for regulating, investigating, supporting and - if necessary - prosecuting the water laws.

"We do not create the laws that govern NSW water," he said. "We enforce them."

All landholders have been sent a letter giving them notice ahead of the visit, to give them the opportunity to check that their water activities are compliant with their individual conditions.

For licensing inquiries Mr Abood said most water users can contact the WaterNSW website or find more information on at the NRAR website www.industry.nsw.gov.au/natural-resources-access-regulator/licensing-and-approvals.

Depending on the circumstances some water users, local water utilities and state significant developments, for example, might be licenced by NRAR.

In any case, landholders can check their water compliance by reviewing the individual conditions of their licences and approvals. Landholders can request a copy of their individual water licence and approval by visiting the NSW Water Register: waterregister.waternsw.com.au/water-register-frame.

"Landholders should not be concerned about receiving a fine unless their noncompliance is wilful, substantial and reckless," Mr Abood said.

"The fines NRAR issues act as a specific and general deterrence to water users considering breaching our water laws."

NRAR's routine monitoring program saw the regulator expand its presence across regional NSW with the establishment of five new teams based in Dubbo, Tamworth and Deniliquin. NRAR's routine monitoring team will travel across the west of NSW between October 2020 and September 2021 meeting with the community to help them understand their obligations.

For more information about NRAR's routine monitoring program visit the NRAR website industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au.

This story Water licence checkers are on the way first appeared on Tenterfield Star.