At the September PPHCSD Board Meeting, the Board of Directors approved an ordinance prohibiting water theft. The ordinance will take effect in October.
Over the last few months, the board reviewed the ordinance that came about when the PPHCSD staff discovered blatant theft of water, in broad daylight, from district hydrants located in remote areas. Ordnance No. 2020-02 prohibits water theft, unauthorized use, tampering, or stealing water by any means from a fire hydrant, shut off valve, or water main, including opening valves that are turned off, bricking, picking, cutting of locks, or bypassing the meter in any way.
The administrative penalty is up to $500 for first-time violators. If the violation is repeated within 20 months the penalty goes up to $2,500 and up the $5,000 if it occurs again, after the 20-month period.
While the cost of water is relatively cheap, repairing the damage to hydrants is costly. Damage occurs when thieves don’t use the proper tools to open a hydrant and can result in a stripped or damaged valve. Thus firefighters cannot hook up to hydrants in an emergency such as a wildfire, because the hydrants are damaged or have been tampered with. The risk of fire emergency vehicles not being able to hook up to hydrants is immeasurable, especially during fire season.
Folks in need of water for short term projects can apply to get a construction meter at the PPHCSD office located at 4176 Warbler Road, in Phelan. A construction meter will allow for a proper hookup and a proper water connection.