Despite only being in operation for a few months, representatives from New South Wales’ Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) are already meeting with stakeholders for feedback on how to improve the system.
Since officially opening for business on 30 April, the NRAR has been busy recruiting experienced investigators to boost and improve its enforcement and compliance capabilities – but it’s not just the NRAR inspectors who are out and about.
NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, has been travelling across the state, meeting water users from Port Macquarie to Bourke, from Walgett to Wollongong to hear from stakeholders and the community on ways to improve the system.
“We currently have 100 employees, with teams in Sydney and in regional locations across NSW. They already have their boots on the ground, meeting with water stakeholders to make sure the message on compliance is clear,” Mr Barnes said.
“Anyone looking to circumvent the regulations and make unlawful, inequitable or non-compliant use of this precious natural resource should be on notice.”
A big part of NRAR’s work is making sure that water licence holders are aware of their obligations when it comes to accessing and using water, which is fundamental to improved voluntary compliance.
“Communities across NSW have told me they want a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance regime in place to prevent water theft and ensure equitable water use for all and that is what we are delivering,” Mr Barnes said.
In its first months of operation, NRAR has undertaken targeted compliance operations in the Murray and Murrumbidgee river areas, ensuring that water users hold the correct licenses and are not exceeding water allocations.
More recently, Mr Barnes said, compliance inspectors participated in a joint compliance operation with its state and federal regulatory counterparts to monitor an environmental flow under embargo in the Northern Murray Darling Basin.