NSW independent water regulator, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), has discovered that whilst the majority of pumps 500mm and above are compliant, or on their way to compliance, with new metering regulations, some are still not fitted with an accurate meter.
Statewide inspections by NRAR found that 45 per cent of affected pumps were still not fitted with an accurate meter and the owners of these pumps will now be subject to enforcement action.
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 to a central database.
Chief Regulatory Officer at the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), Grant Barnes, said he has however 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,” Mr Barnes said.
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 taken 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.
“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,” Mr Barnes said.
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 NSW 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,” Mr Barnes said.
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.