TWO Tamworth landholders have been accused of water theft after an investigation by state authorities.
The National Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) brought the matter to a head this week levelling seven charges a-piece at the Tamworth landholders for taking water from the Namoi River outside of the access conditions on their licences.
The charges fall under the Water Management Act for contravening the terms and conditions of their access licence on two properties.
The charges relate to taking water from the Namoi River outside of the flow conditions of their licences in August, October and November 2018.
The matter is listed for first mention in the court on March 9.
NRAR's Chief Regulatory Officer Grant Barnes said in light of recent bushfires and the ongoing drought, compliance checks have become even more critical.
"During drought the impact of illegal activities on our water supplies, whether it's water take, works on waterfront land or non-compliant dams, is magnified, hitting other water users and the environment even harder," Mr Barnes said.
"Most landholders visited by our officers tell us they are glad we are out there enforcing the rules in their area so they can be confident of a level playing field."
Mr Barnes said all water users have a responsibility to know their water access licence conditions and their water account balances to avoid any potential breaches.
"The onus is on water users to ensure their activities are lawful," he said.
"If you have been found to be non-compliant, you can be assured that NRAR employs a graduated and proportionate approach to any breaches of water laws."
The water watchdog has made 17 prosecutions since its inception.
To make a confidential report on suspected unlawful water use, contact the NRAR Hotline on 1800 633 362 or email firstname.lastname@example.org