The state’s new water regulator has released its first progress report, detailing its performance over an eventful first year of operations and setting its regulatory priorities for the next two years.
Natural Resources Access Regulator Chair Craig Knowles AM said NRAR’s first year was about “building on good legislation, investing in our compliance staff and making sure NRAR’s work is respected in the community.”
“We are achieving our mandate to deliver effective and transparent regulation on behalf of all our stakeholders, and re-establishing trust with our communities. We will continue to engage with stakeholders and build on our success as a fair and equitable regulator, taking firm regulatory action when required.”
“NRAR will be using new technologies and intelligence to focus compliance activities on hot spots for potential water law breaches, and working with our officers to get more out of every minute they spend in the field.”
The Progress Report outlines NRAR’s upcoming priorities including targeting unauthorised water extractions and focusing on locations with high ecological and hydrological value such as coastal surface water and groundwater systems.
Priority activity will also include protecting environmental flows, addressing compliance issues for legacy mining projects, working with irrigation corporations to review unapproved structures, and ensuring compliance with new non-urban water metering requirements
Created out of the recommendations of the 2017 Matthews Report which aimed to improve water compliance in NSW, NRAR began with a heavy burden of public expectation. Growing from a staff of 69 in April 2018 NRAR now has 146 staff, the majority of which are frontline staff, proactively protecting water resources in NSW.
The Progress Report 2018/19 highlights NRAR’s performance in its first 14 months, providing examples of day to day activities and special projects in 10 case studies.
The Progress Report details NRAR’s achievements and actions including:
- receiving over 5,500 hotline enquiries—an average of 15 a day
- finalising over 800 investigations into alleged breaches of water law
- maintaining a caseload of nearly 600 active cases
- conducting more than 320 property inspections
- issuing advisory letters, formal warnings, statutory notices and penalty infringement notices
- undertaking monitoring campaigns, proactively seeking out non-compliance in targeted areas
- capability mapping to ensure NRAR is set up to meet its obligations and to face new challenges in water regulation
- utilising technology to enhance capability and efficiency, including remote sensing and satellite imagery.
NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, encourages anyone interested in leading edge water regulation to read the report.
“I recommend the report to water users, water corporations and interest groups, and anyone interested in how our most precious resource is protected and shared,” he said.
To read NRAR’s Progress Report 2018/19 go to: industry.nsw.gov.au/natural-resources-access-regulator/reports-data/how-were-doing
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.