Gwdydir Valley Irrigators Association says water theft prosecutions shouldn't be a reflection of irrigation industry as a whole.

Gwdyir Valley Irrigators Association looks forward to the legal process running its course when two north western NSW cotton growers face court over alleged water theft.

Last week, WaterNSW announced it had commenced several prosecution proceedings following an extensive period of investigation.

Peter and Jane Harris, and Anthony, Frederick and Margaret Barlow will be taken to the NSW Land and Environment Court over alleged water theft in the Barwon-Darling.

These prosecutions result from comprehensive investigations into allegations of water management rule breaches in the Barwon-Darling unregulated water source in north western NSW.

Gwydir Valley Irrigators executive officer Zara Lowien said it’s a chance to hear from all parties.

“Understandably, this has been an emotive issue both within the community and more widely,” she said. 

“But it is important not to pre-judge the outcome. The legal process presents an opportunity to review the evidence and hear the arguments made by all sides.

“Nor should this action be seen to reflect on the irrigation industry as a whole. It affects just two out of more than 9500 irrigators in NSW.

“Water is our most precious resource. The GVIA and the industry as a whole continue to press for an effective water management compliance system, responsibility for which rests with the state government.”

Peter Harris has confirmed that he has received a Summons issued by WaterNSW to appear in the Land and Environment Court of NSW.

He said no evidence has been served as yet.

“We look forward to an opportunity to vigorously defend these allegations in a legitimately constituted forum where the rule of law applies,” Mr Harris said.

“We have always believed we acted in accordance with the conditions of our Water Access Licences. 

“While these allegations relate to events that happened more than 21 months ago, this is the first time WaterNSW has raised this matter with us.

“The prosecution announced today appears to cover issues raised in proceedings commenced late last year by the Inland Rivers Network which is also before the same court.”