NRAR prosecutes two Griffith water users for alleged unlawful water take

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has charged two water users from Griffith for breaching the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act) after they allegedly took water in excess of their licences and approvals.

Kirsty Ruddock, NRAR’s Director Water Enforcement Taskforce, said the alleged offences took place between July 2017 and June 2020. She said the regulator will hold those who willfully breach the state’s water laws to account in a court of law.

“Water laws exist to protect the environment and ensure everyone gets a fair share. When someone breaches our water laws, it is not just water they’re taking, it’s a crucial community-owned resource,” Ms Ruddock said.

“Breaching our water laws isn’t worth the risk. We employ people on the ground across the state and have ‘eyes in the sky’ with our satellite imagery and drones. It’s almost impossible to take water in NSW unlawfully without our knowledge.”

NRAR issued one individual with four charges under section 91G(2) of the WM Act for allegedly breaching two water management work approvals by taking groundwater in excess of the approvals. The regulator alleges the water user took approximately 6,000 megalitres of water in excess of their licence allocation.

It’s alleged these offences took place between July 2017 and June 2020.

The same individual also faces three charges under section 60C(2) of the WM Act for allegedly taking groundwater in breach of the water allocation for an aquifer access licence between September and October 2019 and then again in February 2020.

If found guilty of all seven charges, the accused faces a maximum fine of up to $500,500 for each offence.

The other individual faces one charge under section 91G(1) of the WM Act for allegedly contravening a term or condition of a water management work approval by taking groundwater in excess of the approval between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

If found guilty, the individual faces a maximum fine of up to $500,500.

The regulator says all the alleged offences took place at the Lower Murrumbidgee Deep Groundwater Source.

The matters are listed before the Land and Environment Court on 11 June 2021.

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’.

/Public Release. View in full here.