Independent advisor to monitor water take

By Country News

Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville has appointed Des Pearson as an independent advisor to help put an end to unauthorised water take.

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.

With high water prices in recent times, this has the potential to significantly impact other water users who abide by the rules.

Ms Neville said there was a zero tolerance approach to unauthorised water take.

“We have new technology that measures and controls water delivery and are making sure it’s being used to eliminate unauthorised take wherever possible,” she said.

“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.”

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.

The 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 and water corporations;

● Mechanisms for DELWP and water corporations to identify emerging compliance risks, such as high-volume unauthorised take, including use of reporting.

Mr Pearson will report to Ms Neville by the end of June.

Mr Pearson's former roles include Victorian Auditor General from 2006 to 2012, as well as multiple audit and risk board committee appointments.

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.