A NSW Government website

Who we are

Our independence

Our beginnings

In 2017, an independent review investigated claims of mismanagement of water resources and misconduct. These claims caused the public to lose confidence in the enforcement of NSW water laws. They also led to scepticism about the effectiveness of metering systems at that time.

Ken Matthews conducted the review. He is a former senior Commonwealth public servant and experienced water manager. He delivered a series of recommendations to the state government in a paper titled the Water Reform Action Plan.

A key step in that plan was setting up an independent authority. NRAR was established to be solely responsible for monitoring and enforcing the compliance of NSW water laws. This responsibility was previously spread between other government departments.

Since our establishment in 2017, NRAR's purpose has been to make the NSW water compliance and enforcement system:

Our structure

We are an independent arm of the NSW government that oversees  compliance with NSW water laws. We sit within the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). Our compliance and enforcement functions are separate and distinct from the department.

  • The department is responsible for making the state’s water laws and policies.
  • WaterNSW manages the rivers and water supply systems according to the rules of the department.
  • NRAR ensures compliance with and enforcement of the water laws.

NRAR is run by an independent board. It is responsible for strategic decision-making and oversight. NRAR's day-to-day operations are managed by the Chief Regulatory Officer and the executive team.

Read more about the Natural Resources Access Regulator Act 2017.

Our board

The board consists of four independent part-time members, including a Chair. Board members must have experience in law, natural resources, compliance and regulation, or other areas.

On advice from NRAR staff, the relevant government minister appoints the board. Once appointed, the board are not subject to any ministerial direction. The minister has no input or influence on the operational activities of NRAR.

Board members are appointed for a three-year term but can be reappointed. They meet at least monthly.

Read our board charter.

Meet our board and executive

NRAR is led by an independent board chaired by The Hon Craig Knowles AM, and an executive team, led by our CRO Grant Barnes.