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What we do

Routine monitoring

Establishing a baseline understanding of compliance in NSW

In October 2020 NRAR employed 30 more compliance officers for a 12-month-long program to create a snapshot of how compliant our state’s water users are with the water laws.

The boost in officer numbers has allowed NRAR to cast its net much wider and visit three times as many properties as our existing monitoring and audit (M&A) team was able to in the 2019-20 financial year. It has also allowed the M&A team to focus more on the high-risk industries and regions.

What the new routine monitoring team finds in the different regions will be the benchmark from which we measure improvement in compliance in the future.

The teams’ findings will also help NRAR:

  • identify when, if, and where education campaigns might be necessary to help the community understand their legal obligations
  • assess how effective our existing operations are in improving water users’ knowledge of the water laws
  • identify properties or areas where we may need to act to avoid or reduce harm to our water resources and the community.

Routine Monitoring campaign map

Follow the progress of our Routine Monitoring team by viewing the maps below.

Who are our new routine monitoring officers?

Our routine monitoring team is the face of NRAR in regional NSW and they are as diverse as the communities they serve.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander officers make up a quarter of the routine monitoring team.

Among the team is a Wiradjuri woman with a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management, a freight train driver, a former Environmental Protection Officer and a recent migrant from India.

Find out more about the team’s work in the Routine monitoring factsheet, the video, and profiles below.

How our teams ensure health and safety for themselves and the community

NRAR is taking extra precautions to protect the health of its staff and the community as we continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. On a site inspection, our procedures require NRAR officers to do the following:

  • maintain social distancing, especially around those at greater risk if they do catch the virus
  • practise COVID-19 hygiene guidelines, including frequent handwashing.

Our standard safety procedures require our officers to:

  • introduce themselves to the landholder where possible, discuss the activities they will be conducting and ask if there are any potential hazards on site
  • if no landholder is present, conduct a risk assessment according to our work health and safety procedures and enter the property only if deemed safe to do so.

Meet some of the team

Cathryn

Cathryn - field safety supervisor at Deniliquin

Cathryn was previously an investigator with NRAR, and before that an environmental protection officer with the Victorian EPA. “Water management is a very important thing at this point in time for humanity,” she said. “We need to put energy into it to get it right.” She also feels a strong drive to help water users post-drought.

Kelsie

Kelsie - field officer at Dubbo

Wiradjuri woman Kelsie’s career has been driven by her desire to protect country. After completing a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management and becoming a bush regenerator, joining NRAR was a logical next step. “I think just seeing the effects of the drought out west the last couple of years, it’s clear that something needs to happen, there needs to be change and I just want to be part of it.”

Susan - field officer at Tamworth

Susan came to NRAR after a career as a freight train driver and small business owner. She applied to NRAR after seeing the impact the drought was having on farmers in her area, which brought home how critical effective water management was. She also loves the interaction with landholders.

Sahja

Sahaja - field officer at Dubbo

Sahaja arrived in Australia two years ago, and joined NRAR after completing a qualification in Environmental Sustainability and Management. “I come from an emerging and developing country where we have a lot of water scarcity – it’s a big problem,” she said. She aims to eventually return to India to apply her new skills to improving its water management.

Richard

Richard - field officer at Dubbo

A former police officer in charge of gun licence compliance, Richard said he joined NRAR after feeling a strong need to see the good in people again. “I needed time away from policing,” he said. While many aspects of his field officer job are similar to checking gun compliance, what’s different is the emphasis - he said he just wants to make sure the sharing of water is fair.

Jarrod

Jarrod - field officer at Tamworth

Jarrod grew up in Tamworth so is on his home turf. He’s a saddler by trade but was running a custom leatherwork business prior to joining NRAR. He was attracted to the job after seeing the Four Corners program ‘Pumped’. “I saw a lot of corruption in the water game and just wanted to play my part [to stop it],” he said.

Where are they?

The new officers have been stationed at Deniliquin, Tamworth and Dubbo from where they fan out across western NSW to conduct their site visits. Around 6000 sites will be visited over the course of the program, randomly selected from the 120,000 sites in the state that have a water access licence or works approval.

As properties to be visited are chosen randomly, a visit from the NRAR routine monitoring team does not mean you are suspected of any wrongdoing.

What happens on a site visit?

Meeting with water users face-to-face on their property is the best way for NRAR officers to gauge their compliance with the law - and their understanding of it. NRAR has found the vast majority of water users want to do the right thing. By visiting them we can find out if they’re compliant, and if not, why. It may be a problem we can solve together.

If NRAR officers visit your property, they will:

  • confirm you have a valid licence or approval
  • check you are taking water according to your approvals and any local restrictions
  • confirm all works, pumps and bores are being used in line with their approved purpose at the time of inspection
  • ensure your water take is being appropriately monitored with metering equipment or a logbook in line with your approval conditions or the requirements of the new NSW non-urban water metering framework
  • Provide you with educational materials on different topics if you require them.

During the visit you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and increase your understanding of what NRAR does and why.

If any breaches of the law are found, our response will be in keeping with the seriousness of the non-compliance. For more on how NRAR responds to non-compliance, see our Responding to alleged breaches FAQs.