Independent NSW MP Justin Field has called on NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey to get serious about the failure of large corporate irrigators in NSW to install compliant water meters calling for no pump notices to be issued and stiffer penalties for non-compliance.
The call follows an inspection report by the NSW Water Regulator that showed 45% of the largest irrigators in NSW had taken no action to comply with new metering rules which commenced at the end of 2020.
Media reports have further detailed that just 23% of the largest pumps (over 500mm in diameter) were fully compliant with a further third on their way to compliance based on evidence provided by way of invoices, product orders and emails confirming validation appointments.
Independent NSW MP Justin Field said, “It is unfathomable that after the 4 Corners report into water theft and a multiyear ICAC inquiry that found systemic failures in water management in NSW that we are still in a situation where almost half of the biggest water users are still "breaking the rules" when it comes to metering water take.
"The pumps in question here are gigantic, half a metre diameter straws that have the capacity to suck the lifeblood out of our rivers. Billions of litres of water will have been taken by these pumps over the last six months when they didn’t have compliant meters to monitor and report take in place. That creates a significant integrity issue for water management in NSW.
NRAR should issue formal directions to install compliant meters and no pumping should be allowed until this compliance can be demonstrated. That will do far more to encourage compliance than the paltry $1500 fine that a corporation could face.
“These compliance failures only further serve to degrade the social licence of the irrigation industry.
“Those irrigators who have spent the time and money to become compliant and those smaller irrigators who have until the end of this year to become compliant are being unfairly tarred by the ongoing failures of certain large corporate irrigators,” Mr Field said.