Lake Meran farming company $20,000 out of pocket for water theft

Wednesday 29 December, 2021

A farming company south of Kerang must pay $20,000 in costs after being found guilty of water theft.

The company pleaded not guilty in Swan Hill Magistrates’ Court on December 8, 2021 to unauthorised take and use of water.

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) commenced the prosecution after the company extracted 14.2ML water from Lake Meran for irrigation purposes between October 4-18, 2019 while there was a temporary qualification of rights to water, and it was placed on restriction in accordance with its licence conditions.

Magistrate Patrick Southey said the charges were proven as there was very little dispute about the facts.

Further, no meaningful defence to the charges was provided.

Mr Southey ordered the company to contribute $20,000 to GMW’s costs and placed it on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

No conviction was recorded.

GMW Water Use Compliance and Enforcement coordinator Chris Dalton said GMW took a zero tolerance approach on water theft which was a serious offence.

“You must adhere to the conditions of your take and use licence at all times to avoid penalties,” he said.

“Water theft affects everyone in your community because there’s limited water to go around.

“Our priority will be continuing to improve the monitoring and enforcement of unauthorised take of water.”

Customers with any queries on compliance can phone the GMW Customer Experience Team on 1800 013 357 for assistance.

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