Water theft comes back to bite

Thursday 10 October, 2019

A Shepparton East company must pay more than $10,000 in compensation and costs and will remain on an extended good behaviour bond after being found guilty of water theft in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court.

The company, which runs irrigated cropping operations, entered a guilty plea on September 30 to taking water without authority after their allocation entitlement went into overuse by 85 megalitres – equivalent to about 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) brought the prosecution after repeated warnings and a formal caution for the company to correct its overuse of water, which took place in the 2017-18 season.

Magistrate Stella Stuthbridge ordered the company to pay $9042 in compensation for the value of the water, $1038 for GMW’s costs and placed the defendant on a two-year good behaviour bond.

At the time of the theft, water was valued at $106 per megalitre – had the theft occurred at current value the compensation could have exceeded $50,000.

“This is a timely reminder that water is a valuable commodity only available to entitlement holders with sufficient allocation,” General Manager Water Delivery Services Warren Blyth said.

He said GMW had a staged process of alerting customers, warning them of any overuse and cautioning them against continued non-compliance before proceeding to legal action.

 “We have an obligation on behalf of all entitlement holders to ensure customers do the right thing and not enter into any overuse of water,” Mr Blyth said.

"If customers persist in doing the wrong thing, we will take action.”

Customers with any queries on compliance or overuse can contact our customer service staff on 1800 013 357.