Goulburn-Murray Water has warned people against water theft after a couple received damning sentences in the Echuca Magistrates’ Court.
A man and a woman from a property east of Echuca face thousands of dollars in fines, court costs and compensation after their court appearance on February 28.
Magistrate Dr Michael King convicted the man of breaching sections of the Water Act and imposed a fine of $15,000 for taking water by sabotaging a dethridge wheel.
He ordered the man to pay GMW’s costs, as well as compensation for the water.
“(The man) manipulated an irrigation scheme that has been set up for the benefit of the community and depends on integrity and trust,” Dr King said.
“This is the last chance and little will be able to be said if there is a next time to avoid imprisonment.
“People are doing the right thing and others are sponging off the system.”
The woman was fined $3000 plus costs and compensation for the water.
GMW managing director Pat Lennon said the vast majority of irrigators did the right thing.
“We’re sure they would appreciate GMW’s efforts to ensure compliance from all water users,” he said.
He said water theft would not be tolerated under any circumstances.
GMW solicitor Jaclyn Cameron said cases of water theft would be prosecuted.
“Stealing water is not worth the risk,” she said.