Water Regulator takes landowner, contractor to Court at Deniliquin

A landowner from south-western NSW has been taken to court by the state’s independent water regulator over 13 charges related to riverfront constructions on the Murray River. The contractor who did the work has also been charged.

The first six charges brought by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) against the landowner related to constructing riverfront works that differed from their controlled activity approval, which breached section 91E of the Water Management Act 2000.

The alleged breaches of the controlled activity approval relate to the excavation or deposition of material for the purpose of constructing an:

  • overbank ramp
  • earthen terrace
  • retaining wall
  • concrete pad.

Another five charges, in breach of s91G of the Water Management Act, were for contravening the terms of the approval, in particular:

  • misalignment of the retaining wall
  • not complying with approved plans
  • failure to remove the over-bank access ramp on completion of the controlled activity
  • using machinery on the river banks
  • failing to comply with the vegetation management plan.

A further two charges, in breach of s336C of the Water Management Act, were for contravening a direction given to protect the water source by failing to remove unauthorised fill and the over-bank ramp.

A contractor from Victoria also received two charges in breach of s336C of the Water Management Act for contravening the terms of the controlled activity approval for the works, regarding the misalignment of the retaining wall and the backfill.

Director of Water Regulation (West-Murray Darling) Graeme White said a controlled activity approval for waterfront works wasn’t a licence to then do what you want.

“The rules for waterfront activities have been made to protect the water source and the environment for generations to come,” Mr White said.

“The whole point of obtaining a controlled activity approval and carrying out the works in accordance with the approval is so you can ensure your riverfront activities avoid negative impacts on the river environment and other users.

“This case also highlights the fact a contractor can also be held to account for unauthorised riverfront activities or constructions. Contractors must ensure the work proposed has the necessary approvals before they start, and carry out the works in accordance with any conditions.”

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’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000. NRAR officers follow all NSW Health COVID-19 guidelines when making site visits.

To see the work NRAR does, go to its public register on the NRAR website.

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