Two Murrumbidgee landholders have been ordered to pay fines totalling $17,000 for exceeding bore extraction limits during a severe drought.
The pair were also ordered to pay court costs of $5,274.
Chief Regulatory Officer of the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), Grant Barnes, said bore extraction limits are set to protect water users and the environment.
“Groundwater sources are often fragile, complex, and have an important role in ensuring the survival of water dependent ecosystems. Bore extraction limits are in place to protect them,” said Mr Barnes.
The landholders were found to have over-extracted more than 500 megalitres from bores on their Coleambally property – an amount of water that could fill more than 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The water was taken from the Lower Murrumbidgee Deep Groundwater Source which is classified as at risk from high water demand.
During the sentencing hearing in Griffith Local Court, Magistrate Michael Love said the offences involved “considerable recklessness” and noted that water was “a precious commodity, and all users must comply with the rules.”
These breaches were detected by NRAR through Operation Drawdown, a pilot project that focused on enforcing bore water extraction limits.
Bore extraction limits are a regulatory priority for NRAR in 2021-22 with a new round of bore audits to begin in April in the Lachlan, Lower Murrumbidgee and Namoi regions.
Water users can check their licence and approval conditions on the NSW Water Register: waterregister.waternsw.com.au