On a mission to uncover water theft on farms
Properties from Bonville to Halfway Creek will be the focus of the next stage of a water compliance program in the region.
Officers from the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) will inspect properties to determine water users' compliance.
It's the next phase of their ongoing Coffs Harbour Horticulture Water Compliance Project.
Previous phases have uncovered a number of breaches.
Inspections will cover 19 horticultural operations that represent the region's diversity in terms of industry, crop type, property size, and water source.
NRAR officers will continue to check dam size, bores, pumping logbooks and water take.
"This proactive campaign helps water users understand the conditions on their licences and works approvals, and ensures water is shared fairly among all water users and with the environment," NRAR's Director Water Regulation (East) Graeme White said.
In the previous phases of this campaign in May 2019 and February 2020, NRAR officers inspected 31 properties and found 28 to be allegedly non-compliant with NSW's water laws.
NRAR has been working with industry groups and stakeholders in the region to educate and improve compliance and attitudes to water laws, using industry newsletters, video and web-based conferencing.
Compliance with water take rules in the North Coast is a regulatory priority in response to public concern that has been received.
"We are encouraged by the swift response from many property owners who are now working toward becoming compliant, however more needs to be done" said Mr White.
"NRAR has been actively engaging and educating water users in the region on the importance of compliance since mid-2019.
"Not complying with the water laws is unfair to your industry, other water users and communities and the environment."
NRAR officers are continuing their activities of monitoring potentially unlawful water take during the COVID-19 response period, while observing all NSW Health recommendations to ensure the safety of water users, the community and NRAR staff.
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 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.