As drought deepens, and as water begins to pour into the Macintyre River system due to a release from Glenlyon Dam, fears grow about the risk of water theft.
"Everyone is feeling the drought and when water is running past your doorstep, literally, the temptation is there," Goondiwindi Regional Mayor, Cr Graeme Sheu said.
He is unaware of any theft at present but "as water restrictions become tougher and they will, there will be a lot more cases of small time - incorrect usage going on," he predicted. That belief comes with a warning.
"Council is vigilant when it comes to water use and there will be checks in towns and along the river to ensure there is no deliberate tampering of meters. I also imagine if there are reports of water theft like that which Stanthorpe is experiencing then I am sure Police will be ramping up their own patrols," he said."I sincerely hope it doesn't get to that," he said. His comments come in the wake of a Courier-Mail report last week. Property owners, now locking their gates to stop water being siphoned from dams and tanks, have revealed their heartbreak about how the drought has turned desperate people into criminals, the story said..
Acting Inspector Gerard Brady was reported saying thefts in Stanthorpe and Warwick were probably carried out by residents who had never broken the law before. "It just shows how dire it has become,'' he said.
GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu said water security was just one concern as the drought continues. "We are about six to eight months behind the lack of water now seen in the Southern Downs. It's imperative that we hope for the best and plan for the worst. That means speaking to Southern Downs council and seeing what actions they have taken to conserve water,finding out what has worked and what has hasn't."
While water restriction have been working - water use in Goondiwindi is down 21 per cent compared to the same period last year - he's warned further restriction are "inevitable". "Over the past two weeks there's been a slight increase trend which is concerning and must be reversed." Council hasn't crossed out imposing fines for non-compliance of restrictions.
Council will be discussing a water policy over the next month. "We just can't say it will rain soon and our problems will be over," he said.
Council has cut back oval and garden watering by 30percent. But what next? "Do we select one or two parks like Sandhurst and Town Park and let others battle on?" Cr Scheu said. The main issue? What options if it doesn't rain until 2020 when river water supply will be exhausted? Council will be discussing bores, water cartage, using blended bore and river water for domestic usage. We will keep you updated on those discussions.