The state's independent water regulator will be continuing its compliance blitz across the region in August.
The state's independent water regulator will be continuing its compliance blitz across the region in August.

Water regulator: strong action needed on ‘wilful offenders’

ROUND three of a State government compliance campaign has revealed 89 per cent of intensive horticulture properties in the Coffs Harbour region are breaking the law when it comes to water use.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has released the results of Phase 3 of its intensive horticulture compliance campaign in Coffs Harbour.

It found 89 per cent (17 of 19) of the intensive horticulture properties inspected, to be allegedly non-compliant with the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

NRAR officers use the latest technology to select properties for inspection and collect evidence during inspections. This image shows an officer casting a depth sounder which assists determine the maximum depth of the dam.
NRAR officers use the latest technology to select properties for inspection and collect evidence during inspections. This image shows an officer casting a depth sounder which assists determine the maximum depth of the dam.

Graeme White, Director of Water Regulation (East) said although this marks the end of this compliance campaign, the regulator will continue its work in the area.

"These results indicate horticultural operations in Coffs Harbour have work to do to bring their operations into compliance," Mr White said.

"We will continue to inspect properties in the area and expect water users to know the rules and to comply with them."

RELATED:

Water regulator uncovers litany of breaches on Coffs farms

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On a mission to uncover water theft on farms

Following these investigations, NRAR took a total of 20 enforcement actions.

To date, NRAR has issued:

- 9 penalty infringement notices

- 2 legal directions to remove unlawful works

- 1 stop work order to prohibit the use of an unauthorised work

- 1 official caution

- 2 formal warnings

- 5 advisory letters

The conditions of workers on local farms has also attracted the attention of authorities in recent months with the Australian Workers Union confirming it's conducting an investigation into possible workplace breaches in the horticultural industry in the Coffs Harbour region.

RELATED: Picking conditions under investigation in Coffs region

Officers from the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) have been inspecting properties to determine water users' compliance.
Officers from the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) have been inspecting properties to determine water users' compliance.

Twelve properties were found to have oversized dams ranging from 1.3 to 20.4 times greater than the allowable size. This equated to 77 megalitres of unauthorised water storage.

One property is still under active investigation.

NRAR's officers also found unauthorised bores and pumps, and most operators with a licence failed to keep appropriate records of their water.

"We've engaged with industry groups and water users in the area at each phase of this campaign to help them achieve compliance," Mr White said.

"Taking water unlawfully is unfair to your fellow waters users and to the environment, so strong action is needed to hold wilful offenders to account."

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'.

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au.


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