A mistake in balancing water accounts has become very costly for a Riverina mixed cropping operation, after it overdrew its water allocation.
The owners of the property near Carrathool will be paying through the nose after overdrawing their accounts by more than 2000 megalitres during the drought period between October 2018 and November 2020.
The landholders at fault are being made to pay just over $200,000 in total as punishment.
They will have to pay $80,000 to Hay Shire Council to fund the redevelopment of a small park, as well as paying the National Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) $25,000 in investigation costs and $100,000 in legal fees.
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They'll also be made to pay for the 2280ML of overdrawn water, and surrender some licences and simplify others to make management of water accounts easier.
The owners will also need to carry out three years of weekly manual meter readings under the state water accounting system.
NRAR's director of water regulation (west), Graeme White, said it was taking the matter very seriously.
"When you take more than your allocation you are taking water from the environment, negatively affecting dependent ecosystems and restricting access to water for users who have followed the rules."
Mr White encouraged others to heed the warning.
"It's vital you know how much water you have to use ... it's a common misconception that you can purchase water after you've pumped," he said.
"That's not true, you may be committing an offence if you overdraw your account."
The NRAR has been cracking down on water use recently, instituting audits across the Lachlan, Lower Murrumbidgee and Namoi regions to monitor groundwater sources.
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