As the irrigation season nears its end, Goulburn-Murray Water is ramping up its enforcement of water theft to ensure customers get a fair share of their winter water supply.
Water compliance and enforcement coordinator Chris Dalton said GMW is seeking to reduce the amount of water that is illegally taken from its channels and storages.
"We've really upped our prosecutions because we want people to know if they do the wrong thing there are going to be consequences," he said.
"Just this year, we have received another tool in the toolkit, and that is penalty infringement notices.
"Prosecutions can at times be long and costly, whereas penalty infringement notices are nice and simple. We can just fine someone, and the deterrent message gets delivered a lot more quickly."
Mr Dalton said GMW also had water management systems in place to ensure it could detect different types of illegal water use.
"It is water theft but it takes various forms, the most prominent of which is unauthorised take. That is when someone who has an entitlement takes more water than they're entitled to," he said.
"We have customers who tamper or interfere with the meters so that they don't correctly record the water that they're taking. We also have people who drill illegal pipes into our channels to take water that way.
"Sometimes people turn up in water carter trucks and try to pump out water from our channels.
"We have a really good water management system and if someone has done something like that, sooner or later it shows up in our system as these discrepancies of why the water that left point A didn't get to point B in the same volume."
Mr Dalton said when people took more water than they were authorised, GMW allowed them a small window of time to correct their behaviour.
"There are no surprises, if you are in unauthorised take, clear contact will be made with you about what your non-compliance is," he said.
"Where people choose not to respond or choose not to do the right thing, then we're getting on with it and we're moving to something like a penalty infringement notice or, if the offence is serious enough, we might go straight to prosecution as well."
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