NSW water regulator finds 89% of Coffs horticulture farms breaking water use laws

Phase 3 of NRAR’s intensive horticulture compliance campaign in Coffs Harbour has found 89% of horticulture operators are breaking water use laws. Photo: Natural Resources Access Regulator.

 

A NSW water regulator has found that 89% of Coffs Harbour horticulture operators are not complying with water use laws.

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The finding was made by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) during Phase 3 of its intensive horticulture compliance campaign in Coffs Harbour.

The NSW water regulator found seventeen of nineteen of the intensive horticulture properties inspected in Phase 3 of the campaign to be allegedly non-compliant with the Water Management Act 2000 (WM Act).

Twelve properties were found to have oversized dams, ranging from 1.3 to 20.4 times greater than the allowable size.

This equated to 77 megalitres of unauthorised water storage.

One property is still under active investigation.

NRAR’s officers also found unauthorised bores and pumps, and most operators with a licence failed to keep appropriate records of their water.

Director of Water Regulation (East) Graeme White said NRAR had engaged with industry groups and water users in the area at each phase of the campaign to help them achieve compliance.

“Taking water unlawfully is unfair to your fellow water users and to the environment, so strong action is needed to hold wilful offenders to account,” Mr White said.

Following these investigations, NRAR took a total of twenty enforcement actions on local horticulture operators, including nine penalty infringement notices, two legal directions to remove unlawful works, one stop work order to prohibit the use of an unauthorised work, one official caution, two formal warnings, and five advisory letters.

Although this marks the end of this compliance campaign, the regulator will continue its work in the area.

“These results indicate horticulture operations in Coffs Harbour have work to do to bring their operations into compliance,” Mr White said.

“We will continue to inspect properties in the area and expect water users to know the rules and to comply with them.”

To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email [email protected].

 

By Emma DARBIN

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