Farmer out of pocket following water theft

Tuesday 14 September, 2021

A farmer north of Bendigo has been placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to water theft charges.

The 49-year-old appeared in Echuca Magistrates’ Court on September 7 charged with interference with Goulburn-Murray Water’s (GMW) works, and unauthorised take and use of water.

GMW commenced the prosecution after a routine inspection on the outlet at the Dingee dairy farm on January 24, 2020.

A GMW officer discovered water flowing from the outlet despite the wheel not turning and no water having been ordered.

The court heard the detheridge wheel was obstructed by a piece of timber, preventing the wheel from turning and recording usage on the meter.

The officer followed the flow of water down the accused’s internal farm channel to a storage dam.

It is estimated 2ML of water was taken without authorisation. Magistrate Russell Kelly said the farmer had a responsibility to ensure he did not interfere with the wheel.

Mr Kelly ordered the man to pay $350 to the court fund and costs of $1685.42 to GMW, but did not record a conviction.

GMW Corporate Secretary and Compliance co-ordinator Chris Dalton said the organisation took a zero-tolerance approach to water theft.

“We have an obligation on behalf of all entitlement holders to ensure unauthorised use of and any tampering with infrastructure is met with enforcement,” he said.

“Water is an extremely valuable commodity in Victoria – if one user doesn’t follow the rules, it impacts every other user in the system, and even the wider community. If you do the wrong thing, you will get caught.”

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