A NSW Government website

How we ensure compliance

How we operate and investigate

How we operate and investigate

NRAR was established in 2018 to provide NSW with an independent, transparent and effective regulator responsible for the enforcement of water management legislation.

It is our duty to enforce water laws in NSW while remaining independent from the policy decisions made within the NSW Government.

Monitoring and responding

NRAR doesn’t just wait for reports of alleged breaches of water laws from the public; we conduct proactive monitoring as well to determine levels of compliance and investigate possible breaches of water laws when necessary. Where a breach has occurred, we take a graduated and proportionate response based on a range of factors, including the severity of the breach and the level of culpability and cooperation of the individual or entity responsible for the breach. Read our proactive compliance report of a campaign in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Region.

It is our responsibility to ensure that water users adhere to the laws outlined in the Water Management Act 2000. Part of how we do this is to monitor and investigate water users.

Licensing and approvals

An important part of managing equitable sharing of water is our role in issuing certain licences and approvals for water take, water use and works on waterfront land. Licences and approvals are only granted on the condition that water take or works meet the provisions of the Water Management Act 2000 and do not harm waterways or prevent access to water for other users who are entitled to it.

Our role in the community

NRAR has an important role in building community trust and confidence in water management in NSW. We do so by working to ensure that water rights holders are only taking their fair share of water from the system and are complying with water laws.

NRAR works closely with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment-Water and WaterNSW to deliver fair and lawful access to water on behalf of the state, its citizens and the environment. Find out more on how we’re engaging with communities.

Our approach to regulation

We employ a risk-based and intelligence-led approach to water regulation to ensure we apply our finite resources to greatest effect. A risk-based approach means we focus on areas where our research indicates the risk or likelihood of non-compliance is highest and where the potential consequences of non-compliance are most harmful. This approach also means that individuals and businesses are less likely to be inconvenienced by unnecessary monitoring or investigation.

Our presence

Our compliance officers across NSW actively monitor and audit the use of surface water and groundwater. Our officers have a broad range of powers to enter premises and gather evidence, such as photos and samples. They can also compel the individual or entity under investigation to provide records and answer questions relating to that investigation.

Our techniques

NRAR uses a variety of methods, including property inspections and technology (such as satellite imagery, drones and sonar depth gauges), to enforce NSW water laws. Our physical presence in regional NSW has also expanded, to enable us to find out how compliant with the laws water users currently are across the state.

The information we gather during property inspections helps us understand why and how regional water users comply with water laws, and helps determine whether education campaigns are necessary to help the community understand their obligations. Inspections also enable us to assess the effectiveness of our existing operations and education and information programs about compliance, and identify where action is needed to avoid or reduce harm to our water resources and the community.