The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), New South Wales’ independent water regulator, has identified compliance issues with pumps being fitted with accurate meters.
The NRAR found that while most pumps 500mm and above are now fully compliant, or on the pathway to compliance, with new metering regulations, there are still pumps not fitted with accurate meters.
A deadline of 1 December 2020 applied to all pumps 500mm and above, requiring they have accurate meters installed which are validated by a certified professional and can transmit water take to a central database.
Grant Barnes, Chief Regulatory Officer at the NRAR, said he has seen an improvement in compliance rates over the past three months.
“We are encouraged to see a positive shift in the rate of full compliance recorded in April. We believe this positive shift is a result of our efforts to engage directly with water users.”
Statewide inspections by NRAR found 45 per cent of affected pumps were still not fitted with an accurate meter – the owners of these pumps will now be subject to enforcement action.
Mr Barnes expressed his concern that enforcement action was necessary and reiterated that there is more work to be done to ensure the accurate measurement of water take in NSW.
“The water users who own the 45 per cent of works without accurate meters are now subject to fines and directions to install them,” Mr Barnes said.
“We are a firm but fair regulator. We understand there can be challenges on the pathway to compliance and we have taken a light touch approach when reasonable efforts have been made.”
Evidence of these efforts could be product orders, invoices or emails confirming validation appointments.
“However, for those who continue to ignore the rules, our response will become progressively severe, up to prosecution if necessary,” Mr Barnes said.
Mr Barnes encouraged those in the northern inland region of the state who are subject to the metering framework’s next deadline, which is less than five months away, to act now.
“My advice for those who face the next deadline of 1 December 2021, which is all works, including pumps above 100mm and bores above 200mm in the Macquarie, Gwydir, Namoi, Border Rivers and Barwon-Darling regions, is to get cracking now to ensure you are doing the right thing when our officers pay you a visit next year.”
If you are a water user in the northern inland, you should:
- Check your status – review the details on your licence and approvals via the NSW Water Register and use the metering guidance tool to check if this regulation applies to you
- Engage a DQP – contact a duly qualified person (DQP) in your area (you can find one at Irrigation Australia) to get the right kind of meters, have them validated, and connected to the Data Acquisition Service
- Contact WaterNSW – if you don’t think these rules apply to you, contact WaterNSW to either tag your work inactive or to update the work size on your approvals
To make a confidential report on suspected water misuse, visit NRAR’s website dpie.nsw.gov.au/nrar-suspicious-activity-report.