A Tongala man has been fined $1500 after pleading guilty to taking water without authorisation at Echuca Magistrates’ Court.
The man, 55, appeared in court in March was charged with two counts of wrongful taking of water and two counts of interfering with works belonging to a water authority. gate
Magistrate Sharon McRae said the man’s offences were intentional and occurred on two occasions, and as an experienced and long-term farmer, irrigation was not a new concept to him.
The court heard the man had benefited from around $1500 of water that he did not pay for, and Her Honour McRae said a strong message must be sent from the court to deter potential offenders.
The man was fined $1500 and ordered to pay costs of $1609.60, and no conviction was imposed due to it being a first offence.
The Water Act 1989 was amended in October 2019 to provide for greater deterrence against water theft by strengthening penalties and giving water corporations a wider range of enforcement tools and powers to suspend or cancel licences.
GMW General Manager Water Delivery Services Warren Blyth said the organisation took a zero-tolerance approach to water theft.
“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,” Mr Blyth said.
“In cases where infrastructure is interfered with, we can only estimate how much water we think was stolen. GMW has an obligation on behalf of all entitlement holders to ensure unauthorised use of and any tampering with infrastructure is met with enforcement.”
Customers with any queries on compliance can phone the GMW Customer Contact Centre on 1800 013 357 for assistance.
For more information go to www.gmwater.com.au/compliance