‘Spud king’ fined over excessive water use

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Tony Galati outside the Bunbury Courthouse this morning.
Camera IconTony Galati outside the Bunbury Courthouse this morning. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

Spudshed owner Tony Galati says he will address internal problems within his company after avoiding more than $100,000 in fines over water use.

The prominent businessman pleaded guilty this morning on behalf of his company Galati Nominees to allegations it used more than double its water allocation on two separate properties in Myalup during a 12 month period.

The Department of Water pursued legal action against the company on two counts of unauthorised taking of water under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act of 1914.

The company exceeded its water allocation from underground reserves on two properties it owns in Myalup by 163,204 kilolitres on one farm and by 160,699 kilolitres on another.

During court proceedings in Bunbury Magistrates Court today, Galati Nominees’ lawyer Julius Skinner said while Mr Galati accepted his company had exceeded its water use on the two properties it had also been “significantly” under allocations on nearby farms.

Mr Skinner said the comment was “not an excuse, but certainly an explanation” as to why it had happened.

Prosecutor Jessica Berry responded that the terms of Galati Nominees’ licences did not allow the “surplus” of one underground aquifer to be used in another area.

Ms Berry told the court the incident was extremely serious and the excess in water was equal to 129 Olympic swimming pools.

She told Magistrate Brian Mahon the maximum penalty for each charge was $50,000, but the department was not pushing for the additional $5000 daily penalty also applicable.

Magistrate Mahon fined the company $10,000 for each charge plus costs of $1230.

Outside of court, Mr Galati said he was glad the incident was over.

“We’ve got a few problems within the group, but I think we’re going to sort it out,” he said.

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