Vegetable growers fined more than $50,000 for overuse of water

September 19, 2023

One of Western Australia’s largest producers of vegetables has been prosecuted and fined for using excess water on its market garden properties north of Perth.

T&C Do and Son Pty Ltd operates a horticultural business growing vegetables on four properties in Caraban and Woodridge. The company is the state’s third largest vegetable producer and supplies its produce to major supermarkets.

In September 2021, officers from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation attended four properties undertaking routine water meter readings from bores used to extract water from the Gingin Groundwater Area. While on one of the properties officers observed that water was being taken from a bore and crops were being irrigated. The officers identified that despite the fact the bore was operating, the water meter was failing to record that water was being taken. Further, it was observed that this meter had not recorded any water as having been taken since the previous reading almost four weeks prior.

In Joondalup Magistrates Court, the company and two of its directors Phung Tran Do (73 years old of Carabooda) and Tuyet Chau Huynh (43 years old of Carabooda) pleaded guilty to four offences relating to water overuse under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act. It was determined that the water licence was exceeded by 12% over a period of 12 months, which works out to a total overuse of approximately 170,529 kilolitres, the equivalent of 68 Olympic swimming pools.

The company was fined $6,000. In relation to the two directors, a fine of $2,000 each was imposed as the main penalty and an additional $22,000 each as a daily penalty. The total of all fines imposed was $54,000 as well as court costs of $1,239.90.

DWER Executive Director of Regional Delivery, Simon Taylor, said the sentence sends the message to other water users that water is a finite resource, and the department will take necessary steps to protect our valuable water resources: “Western Australia’s drying climate means groundwater is precious and increasingly scarce. Strict controls on who may take groundwater and the amounts they may take are essential because of falling groundwater levels, which threaten the sustainability of the state’s habitats and ecosystems.”

This is valid as of 19th September 2023.

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