By Melissa Blewitt
Officers from the Natural Resources Access Regulator’s (NRAR) visited more than 2,000 properties over a six month period, including those in the Lachlan area.
Undertaking NRAR’s routine monitoring program they clocked up enough kilometres (91,000) to travel around the globe twice between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021.
During their travels, NRAR’s field officers inspected 3,941 water works, audited more than 2,074 properties and said a COVID-safe hello to 1,773 water users.
In Lachlan, the regional compliance rate (based on the first six months of monitoring) was 61 percent. In the Barwon-Darling it was 85 percent, Macquarie 77 percent, Border Rivers 78 percent, Murrumbidgee 76 percent, Namoi 68 percent and Murray 69 percent.
The most common offence types by frequency included issues with metering, failing to keep appropriate records of water take in logbooks, oversized pumps and bores and failing to order water before pumping.
After visiting thousands of properties and water users, the NSW water regulator has now launched an interactive dashboard which gives an indication of the rates of compliance and common compliance issues found during the first six month of the program.
Gregory Abood, Director of Regional Water Regulation (East), said he was pleased with the progress his officers made and is encouraged that most water users either comply or show intent to comply with the law.
“Our experience meeting with water users face to face has confirmed our belief that most water users want to do the right thing. Issues arise when they don’t know the rules,” he explained.
“During their travels, our field officers inspected 3,941 water works, audited more than 2,074 properties and said a COVID-safe hello to 1,773 water users.
“We found more than 70 percent of water users were following the specific rules this program is focused on. Largely those who broke the rules did so out of a lack of understanding or awareness.
“We know water laws can seem complex, which is why we’ve put more boots on the ground to meet with water users across the state and help them understand their obligations.”
Unlike NRAR’s targeted campaigns, the routine monitoring program aims to get a baseline understanding of compliance behaviour. The field officers do not visit properties involved in current investigations.
The routine monitoring program is focused on helping water users better understand the NSW water rules. While on farm, the officers check water users are recording their water take in a logbook or with a meter, have the correct sized pumps or bores and are ordering water before they pump.
The data derived from the routine monitoring program will inform NRAR’s future monitoring, auditing and compliance programs to ensure the regulator is being efficient, proactive and effective in areas where it matters.
The regulator will now assess compliance matters identified through the program and commence investigations for serious matters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org