NSW irrigators Peter and Jane Harris found guilty of breaching water-take regulations

Water stops flowing over the weir at Bourke; that triggers water restrictions.

Water stops flowing over the weir at Bourke; that triggers water restrictions. Photo: Frank Povah

Two prominent New South Wales irrigators have been found guilty of illegally taking water for use on their farm near Brewarrina.

The NSW Land and Environment Court on Thursday found that Peter and Jane Harris illegally extracted water for irrigation from the Barwon River during June 2016, contrary to a condition of their joint water use and supply approvals under the Water Management Act 2000.

In 2018, WaterNSW began legal proceedings against the pair for breaching a condition of their approvals associated with the water licence for Beemery Farm.

They will be sentenced on a date to be fixed and have 28 days to appeal against the decision.

WaterNSW brought the prosecution after extensive investigations into water management rule breaches in the Barwon-Darling region in north-western NSW.

It followed an ABC TV investigation aired on the Four Corners program.

WaterNSW chief executive David Harris said he welcomed the court’s finding.

“Today’s result should serve to reassure the broader community that water authorities are serious about managing water resources strictly according to the rules,” Mr Harris said.

“The convictions also demonstrate the commitment and diligence WaterNSW brought to the role of ensuring that the rules for extracting water were enforced.”


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