Stealing or wasting water in Gilbert will become a misdemeanor crime under new ordinances approved by the Town Council.
The ordinances were approved last week, partly to deal with a minority of people who find ways around paying their water bill — and cost town taxpayers money, Town Manager George Pettit said.
Beginning Sept. 28, it will be a misdemeanor to tamper with water meters in an attempt to steal water or prevent it from being turned off.
It will also be a misdemeanor to overuse sprinklers or irrigation water and cause it to run in the streets causing safety hazards or damaging the pavement.
Both could be punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and/or six months in jail, under state law.
There was already a Gilbert ordinance making the violations crimes, but it was not specific enough and did not define the punishment, Pettit said.
“People would park on top of their meter because we sent a disconnection notice,” Pettit said. “People were allowing irrigation or a broken sprinkler head
to run into the street.”
The new ordinances also make it a crime to tamper with utilities to steal water — a situation Gilbert Promotional Corp. suffered recently when water was repeatedly stolen from a fire hydrant at its Rodeo Park, the organization’s arena director Kevin Whitlock said.
Whitlock and town officials believe developers were taking the water. The cost of the loss has not been determined.