NSW water regulator encouraged by response to embargo in state's west

The Chief of the NSW independent water regulator said he was encouraged by what his officers found when carrying out a targeted compliance campaign in the state’s west.

In the area to support a NSW Government imposed pumping water embargo on parts of the Namoi, Macquarie and Peel rivers following significant rain in the area on 30 March 2019, officers deployed on the ground by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) detected no specific incidents of non-compliance with the embargo. An allegation of a breach made to the NRAR by a member of the public is being investigated.

NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the NRAR officers had covered a lot of ground over the course of the week and he was encouraged by what they had found – that water users were aware of the restrictions in place and were complying.

“The onus is on the water user to ensure there is no restriction on their ability to pump before they do so, and I want to thank water users as that’s exactly what we have seen.

“Most water users follow the rules and meet requirements, and I think the level of compliance we are seeing over the course of this campaign is very encouraging and says a lot about the willingness of water users to comply,” Mr Barnes said.

The embargo, or section 324 order, is in place to protect the recent inflows to the Peel, Namoi and Macquarie River catchments from general extraction due to the extended drought, however Mr Barnes said it is important to remember that not all pumping is prohibited by the orders.

“Water users are allowed to pump for stock and domestic purposes, and some high security users such as town water utilities are allowed to source water for residential supply.

“This can make it difficult for the public to detect non-compliance,” he said.

“My investigators and compliance officers are continuing their proactive monitoring as they work to deliver a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance system to prevent water theft. Part of this is the educational advice and assistance we provide to those we visit, or who call us. It is just as important as our compliance activities.”

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.

For further information about NRAR and what it does, visit www.industry.nsw.gov.au/natural-resources-access-regulator.

Source: NSW Government