MWDN: New state law hikes fines for tampering with water meters

December 15, 2010

The Mass. Water Works Association is lauding recent state legislation to increase fines against people caught tampering with water meters or stealing water.

The Acton-based association said it successfully pushed for the bill’s passage. Gov. Deval Patrick signed it Nov. 17.

State law dating to 1914 had capped fines at $100. The new measure raises fines to triple the amount of damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, the association said.

The law also provides for damages to include the value of any water used and the cost of labor and equipment for repairs or replacement.

Utilities across Massachusetts have seen a rise in meter tampering, Water Works Association Executive Director Jennifer Pederson said in a statement. The new fines will hopefully be a deterrent, she said.

The association’s president, Scott Fitzgerald, credited state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, for sponsoring the legislation.

“Our public water infrastructure system, which is already underfunded, is further undermined when some users tamper with their meter, taking water that they don’t pay for,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

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