Water theft in focus

COMING DOWN HARD ON WATER THEFT... GMW’s water use compliance and enforcement coordinator, Chris Dalton on the Goulburn River in Murchison. Photo: Kelly Lucas

GOULBURN-Murray Water (GMW) and Lower Murray Water (LMW) are renewing their focus on the prevention, detection and enforcement of water theft. 

GMW’s water use compliance and enforcement coordinator, Chris Dalton, reported that GMW has strengthened compliance and enforcement. This has resulted in 25 successful water theft prosecutions in 2020-2021, while the number of customers who took water without authorisation has halved. 

“We have also been educating customers on managing their entitlements and proactively monitoring customer account balances. The detection of even small volumes of water theft has led to a swift compliance and enforcement response,” Mr Dalton said. 

“We have increased inspections to detect water theft, including checking customers whose usage exceeded their entitlement in the previous irrigation season.” 

This focus would increase in 2022 as GMW and LMW introduced on-the-spot fines for water theft, meaning GMW and LMW can issue fines (penalty infringement notices) without having to go to court, but does also allow them to still prosecute water theft in court if needed. 

A fine can be issued to an individual or body corporate who has committed a water infringement offence. Under the Water Act 1989 and Water (Infringements) Regulations 2020, they can be issued for: 

From July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, the maximum penalty for an individual is $2,181 and $10,904 for a body corporate and if the matter proceeds to court, much larger fines apply. 

To report an alleged offence or breach of the Water Act 1989, you can phone GMW on 1800 013 357, email [email protected] or fill out an online form at www.gmwater.com.au/compliance or phone LMW on 03 5051 3400 or email [email protected]

COMING DOWN HARD ON WATER THEFT… GMW’s water use compliance and enforcement coordinator, Chris Dalton on the Goulburn River in Murchison. Photo: Kelly Lucas