The state’s independent water regulator, the Natural Resources Access Regulator, has issued multiple fines to a Port Macquarie area water carter for allegedly taking water from the Wilson River without a water licence or approvals.
The water carter has been issued a total of $6000 in fines and received an official caution for allegedly taking water from a swimming hole on the Wilson River near Upper Rollands Plains for commercial use. Four other individuals were issued with formal warnings.
NRAR’s Director of Water Regulation (East) Greg Abood said a joint operation with Port Macquarie Hastings Council was launched in September last year after residents reported suspected illegal activity at the swimming hole.
Motion-activated surveillance cameras were set up at the site in September and October last year which identified four individuals allegedly taking water without licences or approvals, including the commercial water carter.
“This work shows how two regulators can work together to get real results that protect our future water supply,” Mr Abood said.
“We recognise the efforts of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council staff, and the residents who reported the suspicious activity, for helping us do our job.
“Taking water without a licence is unfair and illegal. It impacts other water users and those who run legitimate businesses. All water carters and individuals must have the appropriate licence from WaterNSW before they access water from natural sources,” he said.
Mr Abood said the water carter had already received two previous warnings as a result of past NRAR investigations, and has now received fines for the most recent alleged offence.
The other individuals received formal warning letters, including putting on notice two people who allegedly had engaged an individual to get the water on their behalf.
These actions have now put the whole water-carting industry on notice.
“We take a graduated approach to non-compliance and will continue to monitor the water-carting industry to ensure our message of deterrence is getting through,” Mr Abood said. “We won’t hesitate to escalate action if non-compliance continues.”
NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000. NRAR officers follow all NSW Health COVID-19 guidelines when making site visits.
To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website.