Vineyard owner pleads guilty to water theft from Murray river

The owner of a vineyard on the NSW-Victorian border has pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court to stealing 1378 megalitres of water from the Murray River.

The landholder in the Wentworth Local Government Area pleaded guilty to all eight charges of taking water from a watercourse without an allocation, a breach of section 60C(2) of the Water Management Act 2000.

The water was allegedly unlawfully taken between April 2016 and March 2019.

The case was brought before the court by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), the independent water regulator in NSW.

NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the case underscored the importance of NSW having an independent regulator that ensures fair water use for all.

“We know the people of NSW want a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance regime to prevent water theft and ensure equitable water use, and that is what NRAR is delivering,” he said.

The sentencing hearing is listed for 19-20 November 2019.

The NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 57 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000.

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