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SSJID board cracking down on water theft

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POSTED May 10, 2014 1:31 a.m.

Stealing water during a drought is a crime that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District board wants stopped.

They will address the growing concern of farmers irrigating land that is not eligible for water while irrigating land that is during Tuesday’s 9 a.m. meeting at the district office, 1101 East Highway 120.

SSJID Operations/Water Superintendent Joe Catanzarite issued a memo this week to control room employees, division managers and ditch tenders making it clear that such thefts need to stop. To underscore the urgency of the stealing, he indicated in his memo, “Even if a sprinkler system is taped into their yard and is on a separate parcel. It needs to be stopped. If and when you find this type of sneaky behavior, I want to be called immediately, day or night.”

The district rules and regulations dating back to 1919 indicate theft of utility services could result in imprisonment either in the county jail or state prison for up to a year. That happens if the value of the theft is at least $950.

The SSJID rules aren’t as clear on what happens when that threshold isn’t meant.

The board is being provided Tuesday with a copy of Oakdale Irrigation District’s penalties for water theft.

In 2012, the OOID board did not think the district’s $250 fine per occurrence for theft of water was adequate. They adopted a more punitive fine system calling for a $500 penalty on the first offense, $750 fine on the second and a $1,250 fine for the third offense. That is in addition to paying for the water that was stolen.

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