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About NRAR

Our regulatory priorities

Our 2022-23 regulatory priorities PDF, 2053.72 KB identify and target problem activities, areas and industries that may have high levels of non-compliance with water laws or the potential to cause harm to the environment or surrounding community.

We focus on solving problems that have the greatest impact on compliance and water management.

Our annual priorities

The goal of our 2022-23 annual priorities is to drive widespread voluntary compliance as effectively as possible.

These priorities are often less complex than our enduring priorities and can be solved by understanding the problem, supporting industry and enforcing the law.

Statewide NSW mapWater metering and DQPs

The non-urban water metering reform is one of the most significant changes to water management in NSW in the last few decades.

We will focus on remaining works in the Northern Inland that needed to comply with the metering rules by 1 December 2021. We will also turn our attention to those in the Southern Inland region that need to comply with the metering rules by 1 December 2022. A spotlight will be placed on ensuring duly qualified persons (DQPs) install and verify metering equipment correctly.

Target region: statewide

Irrigated agriculture mapIrrigated agriculture

Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 80 per cent of water taken in NSW and it often makes up the largest water users within a particular region. 

Fair sharing and accurate measurement of water taken by the irrigated agriculture industry will be the focus for NRAR in 2022-23.  

Target regions: Murray, Murrumbidgee and Far North Coast.

Statewide NSW mapWater reporting in mining

NRAR is aware of inconsistencies in how water take is measured and reported across the state’s mining operations and extractive industries.

We will focus on developing a standardised reporting framework to show compliance with water regulations so that water take is accurately measured, modelled and accounted for.  

Target region: statewide

Our enduring priorities

Our enduring priorities address activities and conduct that typically pose greater risk to water management in NSW, or are values that underpin the decisions we make and the work we do.

Enduring priorities are often complex and take longer to solve or act on and may be areas that NRAR will always consider important.

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Accurate measurement

We will continue to ensure that water take is measured and reported accurately in line with the law.

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Aboriginal cultural values

We will conduct our work with respect for the values of the Aboriginal peoples of NSW, for whom water is intrinsically linked to their obligations in caring for Country.

Unlawful activity, significant harm

We will take action against water users who break the law in ways that cause significant harm to the environment, the community and to other water users.

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Unauthorised structures

We will regulate people with unauthorised structures on the floodplain that divert water away from the environment or from places and traditions of cultural significance.


How are regulatory priorities chosen?

We consider several factors when selecting regulatory priorities, including but not limited to:

  • the level of non-compliance and the impact on environment, community, culture and economy from a particular activity or industry
  • the persistence of an issue and our ability to solve it
  • the potential to prevent future harm and non-compliance
  • the likelihood of the unlawful activity to encourage others to break the rules.

What does a regulatory priority project look like?  

Our approach to priority projects can be broken down into four stages:

  1. Identify: data from internal sources, community reports, licence conditions, water accounts, water allocations, drones and ongoing satellite monitoring are all used in combination to identify areas for NRAR’s focus.
  1. Understand: intelligence specialists work with compliance teams to capture knowledge and improve our understanding of our chosen priority areas. All information gathered is used to choose the best regulatory tools to solve issues of non-compliance.
  1. Support: NRAR widely promotes priority areas through communication and education campaigns and may engage with local industry and representative groups to help support those who want to do the right thing and move into compliance.
  1. Enforce: those who continue to engage in unlawful activity are prioritised for strong enforcement responses. NRAR will act more severely against those who break the law in priority areas.

What priority areas has NRAR focused on in the past?

We review and update our priorities on an ongoing basis to account for new developments in our data and analytical tools. Annual priorities also allow NRAR to be responsive to the evolving needs of the community and the environment.  

Previous regulatory priorities can be found below.