Mayfield Garden to establish community programs as part of water use solution

Mayfield Garden. Photo: SUPPLIED
Mayfield Garden. Photo: SUPPLIED

"A GOOD outcome for all parties."

That's how the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has described an "enforceable undertaking" with regional tourist attraction Mayfield Garden as an alternative to other action over water law breaches.

Mayfield, which says it didn't realise that a change to charging admission in 2014 also changed what was required in terms of its water approvals, has offered to establish several programs to benefit the community.

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NRAR Water Enforcement Taskforce director Kirsty Ruddock said Pegela Pty Ltd, trading as Mayfield Garden, was found to be operating bores without the correct approvals.

"Traditional enforcement could include a stop work order to the business, which would have significantly affected the operation of the gardens and therefore impacted its role as both a major tourist attraction and employer in the Oberon region," she said.

"By working with Pegela, we have agreed on a far more sensible solution as it directly benefits the local community. It's a good outcome for all parties."

As part of the enforceable undertaking, Pegela has offered to set up a community program focusing on mental health, education, and prisoner rehabilitation.

Pegela company spokesman Chris Muldoon said Mayfield had always been well-supported by the community, and these programs were another way of showing appreciation.

"It is a well-known fact that gardens can play a healing role in the rehabilitation and treatment of many community groups, so it made sense for us to make Mayfield available to those who need it most," he said.

"We are in the process of developing the community program and hope to have full details on our website next month."

Pegela operates 12 bores across the 66ha of garden and had been fully compliant for almost 30 years.

Charging admission in 2014, however, meant extra approvals had to be obtained for the commercial parts of the gardens - a water licence, water use approval and an allocation in the water source.

The source was the Lachlan Fold Belt Murray-Darling Basin groundwater source, which is subject to a water sharing plan.

The company had also constructed works without controlled activity approvals.

As part of the undertaking, Pegela has agreed to:

  • Obtain the required licences and approvals and purchase water through a controlled allocation.
  • Install authorised metering equipment on the bores.
  • Undertake the community program.
  • Pay NRAR $2500 to cover the cost of the investigation and monitoring.

"We were unaware our decision to charge an entry fee for the upkeep of the garden would change our regulatory status," Mr Muldoon said.

"We have appreciated the opportunity to work with NRAR to ensure compliance moving forward."