Water theft comes back to bite Lake Meran man

Thursday 30 December, 2021

A Lake Meran man is more than $20,000 out of pocket after being found guilty of water theft.

The 53-year-old 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 man extracted 2ML of water from Lake Meran for irrigation purposes on March 13, 2019 while there was a temporary qualification of rights to water, and he was placed on restriction in accordance with his licence conditions.

Magistrate Patrick Southey said the man had arrogantly disregarded the law and provided no meaningful defence to the charges.

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

He placed the man on a two-year good behaviour bond and ordered him to make a $4000 donation to the court fund.

He was also ordered to contribute $20,000 to GMW’s costs in the matter.

No conviction was recorded.

GMW Water Use Compliance and Enforcement coordinator Chris Dalton said the corporation had a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance.

“Our approach also includes proactive measures and safeguards to prevent unauthorised take of water to protect other water users, the environment and ensure the integrity of the water market,” he said.

“Individual water users should make sure they have the right authorisations before they take water from a dam, bore, stream, river, creek or irrigation channel.”

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

For more information, go to www.gmwater.com.au/compliance