The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) issued Wentworth Shire Council with a Penalty Notice of $1,500 for an alleged breach of Section 91 (G) of the Water Management Act 2000 this month.
The breach allegedly impacted water flows and fish passage on the Darling River and had the potential to affect the first fish breeding event in that river over the last four years.
NRAR’s Director Water Regulation West, Greg Abood, said the regulator had thoroughly investigated the matter, weighing up the severity of the breach, the council’s culpability and attitude towards the investigation, the impact on the natural environment and other water users, as well as the public interest.
“As a risk-based regulator, we employ a graduated and proportionate approach to all alleged breaches of water laws,” Mr Abood said.
The regulator’s investigators found the addition of the unauthorised structure to Pooncarie Weir an alleged offence as the works were not in accordance to the conditions of their work supply work approval.
NRAR issued Wentworth Shire Council with a stop work order to cease using the unauthorised addition and requires the council to remove the work when it is safe to do so. NRAR’s stop work order will ensure future water flows on the Darling River are not adversely impacted.
“Water laws are in place to ensure that all water users and the environment have fair access to water. This becomes even more important if our natural resources are negatively impacted,” Mr Abood continued
“The community expects water utilities to be exemplars of the law and that water users across the state will be held to account. NRAR agrees with this sentiment, which is why it is appropriate in this instance for us to have taken this action.”
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’.