Compliance officers from water regulator inspect local farms
THE Natural Resources Access Regulator began a campaign this week visiting farms and businesses on the state's north coast over January and February.
NRAR's compliance officers are undertaking proactive inspections focusing on:
• Cease-to-pump conditions - on holders of approvals and water access licences which have been triggered by low flows in watercourses
• Expired approvals
• Coffs Harbour horticulture operations.
Director Regional Water Regulation (East) Gregory Abood said the Northern Rivers is a high priority area for NRAR, and officers are targeting potentially unauthorised water extraction in 12 local council areas in the region.
"In the current extreme drought and bushfire conditions, ensuring fair sharing of available resources is more critical than ever," Mr Abood said.
He said NRAR selects sites for inspection based on compliance history, local knowledge, satellite imagery and water account records.
"Also we are now using a range of new technologies making it quicker and easier to detect non-compliance than ever before - satellite imagery, drones, and ultra-sonar devices to measure dam size.
"Don't wait until NRAR visits you - act now to make sure you know the rules and conditions on your approvals and licences, and ensure you are complying with them."
Low flows in the Wilson and Hastings rivers have triggered cease-to-pump-conditions on many surface water approvals and access licences.
NRAR will be checking that water users know the rules and that water isn't taken for irrigation or other commercial purposes in these areas.
"Officers will check how water users monitor their water take, that any cease-to-pump conditions are being complied with, and approvals are current," Mr Abood said.
"This will help prevent future non-compliance by ensuring water users are aware of their obligations and comply with them."
The inspections of Coffs Harbour horticulture operations taking place are a continuation of the compliance campaign begun in that area last year.
NRAR will continue to engage with the industry and community throughout this campaign.
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.
To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or visit industry.nsw.gov.au/nrar.