The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has begun its latest prosecution, this time against two Murrumbidgee landholders.
NRAR charged the landholders with two counts of contravening a condition of their works approval which contained an extraction limit, under section 91G(2) of the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).
Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said NSW had bore extraction limits in place to protect water users and the environment.
“Bores extract water from groundwater sources which are often fragile, complex, and have an important role in ensuring long-term sustainability of natural habitats,” Ms Ruddock said.
“The monitoring and managing of groundwater helps to protect this precious resource from contamination, deterioration and loss of water.
“Water users who take water in excess of their authorised bore extraction limit could negatively affect surrounding water users’ ability to use their bores, as well as ecosystems which rely on the groundwater.”
It is alleged the landholders over-extracted more than 500 megalitres which could fill more than 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The over extraction occurred at an at-risk water source (the Lower Murrumbidgee Deep Groundwater Source) during the drought: between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019, and 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.
NRAR detected the alleged offending through Operation Drawdown, a pilot project which focused on enforcing bore water extraction limits.
Bore extraction limits in at-risk groundwater sources are a regulatory priority for NRAR – so, water users who over-extract water from their bores can expect enforcement action in the coming months.
The landholders will appear in Griffith Local Court on 22 December.
If a water user is unsure about what their bore extraction limit is, they can check their licence and approval conditions on the NSW Water Register: waterregister.waternsw.com.au.
To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, visit NRAR’s website nrar.nsw.gov.au/suspicious-activities.