Council fined for alleged unlawful water take

NRAR issues two penalty notices to Tamworth Regional Council

The state’s independent water regulator has issued two penalty notices to Tamworth Regional Council for alleged breaches of NSW water laws.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) alleges that the council’s water take from the Scott Road Drift Wells exceeded the allocation of one of its water access licences for the Peel Alluvium Water Source by more than 300 megalitres in the 2019-2020 water year.

This is an alleged breach of section 60C(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 – taking water for which there is no or insufficient allocation.

The Peel Alluvium Water Source is classified as “at risk” under the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy.

NRAR’s Director Water Regulation (West-Murray Darling) Greg Abood said the regulator had thoroughly investigated the matter, weighing up the severity of the breach, the council’s culpability and attitude toward the investigation, and the public interest.

“As a risk-based regulator we employ a graduated and proportionate approach to any alleged breaches of water laws,” Mr Abood said.

“Although we considered the mitigating circumstances, the community expects public water utilities to comply with the law. It’s even more critical in times of drought.

“Water allocations are in place to provide fair access to water for both licensed water users and the environment. This is why it is critical water users don’t exceed them.”

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers use drones and satellite-based technologies in proactive campaigns to detect non-compliances all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas. NRAR’s continually increasing use of technology is honing its effectiveness in upholding the Water Management Act 2000.

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar. Go to ‘Reports and data’, then ‘NRAR Public Register’.

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