Water regulator to visit fruit and vegetable farms
FRUIT and vegetable farms in Coffs Harbour will be inspected to make sure they are complying with water management laws.
The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) will carry out inspections from today that focus on water take, dam size, how water take is monitored and what practices growers have in place to protect water quality in nearby watercourses.
"The horticultural industry has grown around Coffs Harbour in recent years and NRAR will be checking that growers understand the water-take laws and stick to the rules," NRAR's director water regulation Greg Abood said.
"Our proactive compliance activity ensures water is shared fairly amongst all water users and with the environment. We know that fair water use is very important to the community and the industry," he said.
The NRAR is selecting properties to be inspected using local knowledge, satellite imagery, water-use records and compliance-history records.
During the inspections, NRAR authorised officers will be available to answer questions about the water laws.
"Our work will give us a better understanding of the level of compliance.
"We will use it to make sure water take is monitored and legal, ensuring a level playing field in the industry. We will openly share the findings and any regulatory action that comes from this work with the horticulture industry and the community," Mr Abood said.
The NRAR is an independent, transparent and effective regulator that enforces compliance with water management legislation in NSW and prevents water theft.
Compared with the 12 months prior to its establishment in April 2018, the NRAR has increased completed investigations by 70 per cent. It has issued three times as many penalty notices and four times as many directions to remove unlawful water management works.
Newly elected Member for Coffs Harbour and founding director of Oz Group Co-op, the biggest in Australia, Gurmesh Singh welcomes the visits.
Mr Singh said he had been calling for the State Government to increase on-the-ground compliance and he was pleased it had become a reality so soon after becoming the Member for Coffs Harbour.
"These compliance checks will help safeguard the future of our horticultural industry, which is so vital to our local economy, by ensuring our community has continuing confidence in our farming sector," Mr Singh said.