A NSW Government website

What we do

Investigation and enforcement

NRAR’s overall approach to regulating the use of the state’s water resources is informed by our vision that we can create thriving environments, communities, and economies by working together.

We are a firm but fair regulator. We prefer to educate and empower water users to comply with the rules, but we will act decisively against those who willfully and recklessly disregard the law.

Our approach to regulation

When we decide what to investigate, we consider two main questions.

  1. Does the evidence show there is a high risk that water rules are being broken?
  2. How much harm will be caused by breaking the rules?

This approach means less inconvenience to water users from unnecessary monitoring or investigation of smaller issues.

Our presence

Our compliance officers across NSW actively monitor and audit surface water and groundwater use.

They have the power to enter premises and gather evidence, take photos, and collect samples. They can compel the individual or entity under investigation to provide records and answer questions relating to that investigation.

Learn more about NRAR’s compliance powers.

Our techniques

NRAR uses a variety of methods, including property inspections and technology to enforce NSW water laws. Our tool kit includes satellites, drones, special boats that can measure the volume of a dam and devices that can “listen” to how much water is passing through a pipe.

We have many staff on the ground in regional NSW working with water users, doing routine monitoring, checking compliance, and inspecting properties.

Together, these techniques give us continuous intelligence about what is happening on the ground and informs our actions around protection of water resources and making sure everyone understands both their rights and their obligations under the water laws.

How we operate and investigate

NRAR uses a range of methods to enforce our state’s water laws.


How we use technology

Find out more about the range of technologies we use to monitor and assess compliance with water laws.


How we respond to breaches of the law

Learn about how NRAR responds when water laws are breached.

How we respond to breaches of the law