Survey reveals support for strong action

Most people believe water theft is an ongoing problem in NSW and want more done to stop it, a new survey has found.
The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) Community Benchmarking Survey 2023 found that 70 per cent of the general public surveyed believed illegal water take was happening, and 84 per cent wanted stronger action to combat the problem.
NRAR Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said the survey was the strongest signal yet that people want a well-resourced and effective water regulator in NSW.
“The survey shows clearly that whether respondents were water licence holders or members of the general public, they want a strong regulator on the beat, ensuring water laws are followed,” Mr Barnes said.
The survey measured public confidence in the way water is regulated in NSW.
A total of 1,615 people were surveyed including 1,118 licence holders and 450 members of the public.
The survey also found that:
•83 per cent of water licence holders believe it is never okay to break the rules.
•99 per cent of those who thought it was sometimes OK to break the rules cited emergency scenarios such as fire as the most common justification.
Most stakeholder groups believe that because of NRAR, rule breakers are more likely to be caught.
Mr Barnes said NRAR was established in 2018 during the worst drought in Australia’s history to address systemic challenges in water regulation in NSW.
“Since we started, we’ve taken 38 of the most serious matters to court with 210 enforcement actions issued in the 2022-23 financial year alone,” Mr Barnes said.
“We act decisively against people who break the law but there is still some work to do to improve on the perception that water theft is widespread,” he said.
“Our outreach visits to properties show us that for every 100 properties we visit, we see about 70 people doing the right thing, around 25 have minor non-compliance issues, and 5 people have serious issues that need to be addressed. “
Mr Barnes said NRAR would respond to the survey results by continuing to focus strongly on education and detection.
“Only 60 per cent of licence holders who we visited said they felt they received appropriate education regarding their obligations, so we will continue to develop resources that can help them,” Mr Barnes said. “We will also work on boosting confidence that the system works by highlighting how we detect breaches using advanced satellite and remote imaging techniques.
“The reality is that when that is combined with the work of our investigators and many field staff, the chances of being caught if you do the wrong thing have never been higher.”
Press Release.

Last Updated: 28/02/2024By

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