Water thefts plague dry Southern Downs region

Police investigating Southern Downs water thefts


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Police have received three reports of water thefts across the area, and suspect there have been three other incidents.

Police have received three reports of water thefts across the area, and suspect there have been three other incidents.

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Police and councillors in the Southern Downs region are disappointed and concerned by reports of water thefts.

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As the Southern Downs region prepares to move to 'critical' water level measures on September 1, police and councillors are disappointed and concerned by reports of water thefts.

Police have received three reports of water thefts across the area, including more than 7000 litres of water being stolen from the Girraween Environmental Lodge at Wyberba on March 11.

Between June 7 to 21, an unknown quantity of water was taken from a dam at a property on Poziers Road, Cottonvale, and between July 28 and 29, an unknown quantity of water was taken from High Street in Stanthorpe after a cap was removed from a water main.

Police also suspect there have been three other incidents of water theft in the area, but so far no formal complaints have been lodged.

Stanthorpe Officer in Charge Acting Senior Sergeant Greg Finucane said they would like people to monitor water depths and volumes in tanks and dams, and to report any thefts or suspected thefts to police.

"If residents believe a vehicle or person appears suspicious and may be taking water without consent, consider writing down the registration or a description of the person and their clothing as well as the time, date and place it occurred," Acting Senior Sergeant Finucane said.

"Our community is going through a very tough time with the limited water supply and severe drought conditions.

"It is important that we band together and support each other - that is why it is so important that any water theft is reported to us so that we can investigate thoroughly and take action against anyone who would do such a thing."

Southern Downs Regional Council moved to 'extreme' restrictions in March 2019, and last month approved instigating 'critical' level measures from September 1, limiting households to 100 litres of water per person per day.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said she was saddened by the water thefts.

"We really appreciate that our region and the residents of our region are in difficult situations, and some are in very difficult financial situations," Cr Dobie said.

"But rather than take water from someone else, please get in contact with Council's drought coordinator, talk to her about where funding support may be available for you in your situation."

Cr Dobie said the lack of rain and diminishing water levels in above ground water storages continued to take a toll on residents of her region.

"There's no doubt that the biggest optimists in the world are farmers, and our primary producers are all putting in place now measures to manage this situation and prepare for when it rains," she said.

"A drought like this that has gone on for such a long time affects everyone.

"While initially it affects our primary producers, and they are the ones who are feeling the worst of the impact, they don't have any money to spend, so that then impacts all the organisations who rely on the.

"From children having to be taken out of private schools, we have retailers that are closing, because they just can't sustain the lack of disposable income in our towns."

Cr Dobie said the number one priority was to keep businesses and families going.

"One of the things that we're trying to do is keep our water restrictions to a level that you can still maintain livability within your home, and our businesses can continue to function," she said.

"We don't want to see a business go out of business because of water restrictions.

"We want to make sure our businesses can continue and if we can keep our towns and villages functioning and operational, then there is support there for our agriculturalists."

As a large tourist region, Cr Dobie is urging people to continue visiting the town and beautiful surrounding regions.

"A country in drought is still beautiful."

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