$45,000 fine for taking water without a licence
Released 15 Nov 2017
A company which used more than 34 million litres of bore water without a licence has been found guilty of three water offences in Bunbury Magistrates Court.
Commercial developer Mermaid Towers Pty Ltd was fined a total of $45,000 for three counts of Unauthorised Taking of Water under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act (1914).
The offences took place over a five month period between October 2016 and March 2017 and involved a total of 34,502 kilolitres of water.
The company had previously held water licences for the properties in Myalup.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation told the court the offender was aware of its obligations and had been warned previously that unauthorised taking of water was prohibited.
Due to the company having been placed into insolvency last year, the court was told there was little prospect of recovering the fine or court costs as the liquidator had informed the State that unsecured creditors were unlikely to receive payments.
Department of Water and Environment Regulation Executive Director Regulatory Services Water Paul Brown said there was a strong public interest in pursuing the prosecution despite the insolvency.
“The Magistrate remarked that his decision reflected the vulnerabilities in the Lake Preston South groundwater management subarea, and the importance of sending a strong message to other water users.
“Groundwater is licensed sustainably and to a certain volume of water, and anyone taking water outside of the rules puts other water users and the resource at risk.
“This is especially the case in an area such as Myalup where water is scarce, highly-valued and vulnerable to salinity if over-used.”
“Although we are unlikely to get the money, the fines were the largest for this type of offence handed down in WA to date, indicative of the Magistrate’s view of the seriousness of the offence, and build a precedence for future cases.”
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441