A landowner has operated 3 irrigation farming properties near the village of Carrathool in the western Riverina region for about 25 years. The properties are Carlisle, Kulki and Daisy Lodge. Various summer and winter crops are grown on the properties including cotton and wheat.
As a co-owner of these properties the landholder holds underground water access licences for each of the properties along with water management work approvals for associated bores and pumps.
NRAR believed that the co-owner of these properties was likely to have breached the Water Management Act 2000 when water was taken before it had been allocated to water accounts for the bore licences. The landholder also acknowledged that they were likely to have breached the rules.
This practice is known as overdrawing a water account. A water account is just like a bank account, you can’t make a withdrawal if there isn’t enough water in the account to cover it. It’s an offence to overdraw a water account.
Between October 2018 and November 2020, groundwater was taken from the Lower Murrumbidgee Deep Ground Water Source from bores authorised by approvals linked to the landholder’s three groundwater access licences. Together, the amount alleged to have been overdrawn added up to just under 2280 megalitres –which could fill more than 900 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The EU came into effect on April 26, 2022. Under the terms of the agreement the co-owner will:
- pay for the 2280ML of water overdrawn but not be able to use it in the following year
- surrender some licences and simplify others to make management of water accounts easier and more efficient
- pay $80,000 to Hay Shire Council for the redevelopment of a small park beside the Mid-Western Highway at Hay (Murray Street Park)
- carry out three years of weekly manual meter readings and reporting under the State water accounting system (iWAS) to ensure water accounts are not overdrawn again
- reimburse NRAR for $25,000 in investigation costs
- pay NRAR's legal costs of $100,000.
Benefits for the community
This EU demonstrates that most people want to do the right thing, and the landholder’s commitment to remedying the issue. The landowner has acknowledged that proper water account management is a crucial part of water planning and management, and the importance of caring for and maintaining ecosystems and sustainable farming practices.
The landholder's contribution to the council will help with the redevelopment of a public park in Hay that will see benefits delivered to the local community in the form of an improved public green space.
Find the complete details of this enforceable undertaking (EU) on our public register.
Water is a limited resource and access in NSW is managed through water sharing plans, that outline the rules about how water is allocated to users in those areas.
Every year estimations are made about how much water is available before allocations are made in order of priority, with users such as stock and domestic and town water supplies coming first.
If a user takes more than they are allocated, then other users may not get their fair share.
It is an offence to take more water than you have been allocated. To learn more about how water is allocated, watch this short video.