Water regulator disappointed by court decision

Despite a disappointing decision in the Land and Environment Court on Friday the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) continues its important work to protect the state’s precious water resources.

The prosecution against two landholders from the Walgett area was the third court prosecution brought by NRAR since its establishment in April 2018 and out of 24 commenced prosecutions, represents its first loss out of 9 matters which have been concluded.

NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said NRAR plays a vital role in ensuring fair and equitable access to water for communities, water users and the environment.

“While I respect the decision of the court, I am disappointed with the outcome. We are carefully reviewing the judgment and considering our legal options,” he said.

“NRAR was created to deliver effective, transparent and accountable compliance and enforcement, and to maintain public confidence in enforcement of the state’s natural resources management legislation. We will continue to forge ahead with our mandate to enforce water law in NSW,” he said.

NRAR is guided by the fundamental principles stated in the Water Reform Action Plan, particularly to build a compliance and enforcement regime that ensures strong and certain regulation, and to introduce best practice for water management.

“This is our job. We enforce NSW water law and we believe strongly in the ‘no meter-no pump’ principle. As a modern regulator, NRAR is adopting new technologies to ensure water compliance, now using satellite imagery analysis and drones to complement our boots on the ground approach” said Mr Barnes.

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’ licenses and the Water Management Act 2000.

The regulator has continued its vital work during the COVID-19 lockdown period while observing NSW Health recommendations to ensure the safety of water users and staff.

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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