The state government has renewed its focus on water compliance.
Water Minister Lisa Neville has appointed former Victorian Auditor General Des Pearson as an independent advisor to gain a full understanding of any compliance issues and put an end to unauthorised water take.
"We have a zero tolerance approach to unauthorised water take - it's unacceptable and could negatively impact other irrigators who are doing the right thing," Ms Neville said.
"We have new technology that measures and controls water delivery and are making sure it's being used to eliminate unauthorised take wherever possible.
"Victoria is seen as a leader in compliance and water management - particularly in the context of revelations in the Murray Darling Basin over recent years - and I want us to continue to lead the way".
Unauthorised take typically occurs when water users draw beyond what they have in their account, even if they have the intention of squaring it up later.
Ms Neville said with high water prices in recent times, that had the potential to have a significant impact on other water users who were doing the right thing.
Mr Pearson will lead an independent review of systems and processes of Water Corporations with non-urban customers, ensuring adequate compliance measures are in place to meet the ministers expectations of zero tolerance of unauthorised take.
This review will consider:
- policies, procedures and frameworks established to govern and manage compliance and enforcement
- monitoring and reporting processes, including use of data
- governance arrangements within and between the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Water Corporations
- mechanisms for DELWP and Planning and Water Corporations to identify emerging compliance risks, such as high-volume unauthorised take, including use of reporting
Mr Pearson brings extensive experience to the position, including his position as Victorian Auditor General between 2006-2012, and multiple Audit and Risk Board committee appointments.
He will report to Ms Neville by the end of June.
Last year the government increased the maximum fine for intentional water theft and related offences if they cause substantial harm to $198,000 for individuals and $990,000 for companies.
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