NRAR fines Armidale regional council for alleged unlawful water take

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) issued the Armidale Regional Council two penalty notices for alleged unlawful water take between December 2019 and February 2020.

The regulator alleges the council allowed a business in Guyra to take water from two of its test bores without the required Water Access Licence (WAL) or Special Purpose Access Licence (SPAL).

Gregory Abood, Director of Regional Water Regulation (West) says NRAR commenced a thorough investigation in July 2020 following a public tip off.

“We immediately undertook an investigation into the allegation and took action to protect the environment and uphold our water laws,” said Mr Abood.

“Water users who are required to hold a WAL or a SPAL, must do so, before they take water. If they don’t then that impacts the public’s confidence in the industry and how it is regulated. We expect councils to be leaders in water compliance across the state.”

The council applied for and was granted an exemption under c39A of the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018 to construct a bore without having to apply for or hold a water supply work approval in January 2020.

When granting the exemption, NRAR informed the council that a WAL or SPAL was required for water taken through the bores. These exemptions only apply to situations of critical water use during drought conditions and only to construct test bores.

NRAR alleges the council breached s60A of the Water Management Act 2000 when it unlawfully took water from bores without holding a WAL or SPAL during the time of the offending.

NRAR issued the council two penalty notices in the form of two fines worth $1,500 each on 10 March 2021.

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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