Utility targets water theft

Letters sent to about 20 Greater Vernon property owners who are bypassing water meters

Water thieves are facing the full force of the law.

The Regional District of North Okanagan is sending out letters to about 20 Greater Vernon property owners who are bypassing water meters.

“Enforcement action is happening,” said Stephen Banmen, general manager of finance.

The property owners, ranging from residential to hobby farms, have installed pipes that allow them to irrigate without a meter registering usage.

“They are using water for free and it’s not being accounted for,” said Zee Marcolin, Greater Vernon Water Utility manager.

They will be given two options: either install a meter at the property line or pay the unmetered rate for water, which is $300 to $800 a quarter.

“We could shut off their water but that’s the last resort,” said Marcolin.

GVW has become aware of the bypasses through various means including public tips.

“We got a call from an individual and his neighbour was bragging about their bypass,” said Marcolin.

Some of those receiving letters are repeat offenders but the regional district did not have established procedures for enforcement at that time.

“We now have ticketing bylaws and metering bylaws,” said Marcolin.