Monday, March 19, 2007

Water theft

Someone I know, who lives in near a regional centre in Victoria's Goldfields district, had her water stolen recently.

How do you steal someone's water? Well, you use a large water tanker to steal the water from their water tank. Of course, it helps if you've targeted a regional or rural property that is a little secluded or distant from prying eyes, and you visit that property when the owners are away for a couple of days.

Alternatively, you may be masquerading as someone selling water – a booming business in these days of water shortages – and show up on the pretense that you're filling
, rather than emptying, the water tank and fool the neighbours.

This person lost all the water in her 2,000 liter bladder water tank – which was under her back deck, suggesting they had 'thoroughly cased the joint' to know it was there. She was quite upset about it, and the police, who've indicated it is not an uncommon occurrence, haven't been able to do much. Apparently, the owners of a holiday house in the area also lost their water recently, but they don't know when the theft occured because of the time lag between their visits to their property.

I don't think this is a new problem, though it hasn't received much coverage outside the regional press and radio, but with the severity of the water shortages in rural areas and the drought making every drop of rain caught in rain-water tanks liquid gold, theft like this is excruciating, and unfortunately will grow increasingly common. Especially after recent good rainfall has filled the tanks.

Amongst the group of us who heard this story last week, there was speculation that the thieves were using it themselves for thirsty livestock and crops, or
possibly selling the water to others. Which raises the spectre that there is a blackmarket for water amongst water carters. It seems there is always someone who wants to profit from misfortune – in this case, drought.

It's no wonder the NSW police have many suggestions for farmers and those living in rural areas to keep their properties secure, such as putting a padlock on your water tank and keeping track of its contents. And I thought country people took pride in being able to leave their doors unlocked.

Doesn't say very much of our reputation for observing the principles of the 'fair go', persevering in adversity and 'helping out' in the country. Sorry, 'rural and regional Australia'.

[Image of Australian water tanks by Georgie Sharp (cc) ]

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At March 19, 2007 2:39 pm, Blogger Whizzed said...

This is a new one for me as we need water desperately up here in Qld so I understand the concern certainly.
I know we had a lot of cattle duffing years ago and the Qld Government was a tad shady in those days but I think we have cleaned up our act now.
Regarding water well that is a touchy point here as you may know what with our incumbent Premier getting his way with sewage water treated so we can drink it.
I still think I shall stop up here but.
Quite an interesting topic that a lot of folk in the world know nothing about sadly

At March 20, 2007 5:11 am, Blogger philjohnson said...

It is a sad example of the exploitative and dark side of human nature. We may need to be reminded of the moral lessons of William Golding's Lord of the Flies to recall how easy it is for us to become debased in the absence of socially interdependent restraints on our lowest impulses to exploit, dominate, and control one another.

At March 20, 2007 12:29 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Hey whizzed, thanks for your comment. I understand that treated waste water is a touchy subject in Queensland, but I wonder how much our choices in these matters will be dictated by necessity, rather than politics. Or personal taste.

Phil, I'm not inclined to think of people having some innate or inherent dark or base impulses that only the highest states of civilisation can make us rise above. It was what the white imperialists kept promising us about European civilisation, and look at where it's got us.

And I'm trying to keep a sense of perspective on this, and am inclined to reserve my outrage over water theft to more extreme situations, say, as an example, bandits stealing water from suffering refugees in Dafur, rather than from middle class hobby farmers in regional Australia.

On one hand, we have peoples' lives and dignity being affected. On the other, browning lawns and gardens.

Then again, livestock is another matter.


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