A MAN from northern Victoria has been placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to water theft charges.
The 34-year-old appeared in Echuca Magistrates' Court on June 2 charged with interference with Goulburn-Murray Water's (GMW) works, and unauthorised take and use of water.
GMW commenced the prosecution after it was discovered the outlet door was open approximately 2cm with the pin wedged in the door to keep it open.
GMW general manager of 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," he said.
"In cases where infrastructure is interfered with, we can only estimate how much water we think was stolen."
The court heard the detheridge wheel had also been prevented from turning, stopping the usage recording on the meter.
It is unknown how much water was taken.
Magistrate Russell Kelly said a much harsher penalty would be imposed if the man came before the court again.
Mr Kelly also ordered costs of $1426.05 but did not record a conviction.
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.
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