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Floyd County water thieves dampen progress for Southern Water District

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 11:20 PM EDT
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MCDOWELL, Ky. (WYMT) - Southern Water District just invested $1.4 million into new water meters for its customers. But those meters are now being vandalized and stolen.

“All the meters we had here was, you know, pretty much not in working order,” said Utility Management Group Project Manager Randy Conley. “Then they had to borrow the money to get $1.4 million to put all new ones in. And as soon as we’re getting them in, you know, they’re already stealing them.”

According to Conley, the water thieves are taking the meters from places that are closed, like churches and community centers, then using them to connect their own homes to water.

He says it is a problem that has been ongoing in the community for years as people try to avoid paying water bills, but it is something that has to be addressed before the district will be able to lower its utility rates.

“I’d say four to six thefts a week, that we find. And we know there’s more,” he said. “There’s several getting by that we haven’t caught. You just can’t catch ‘em all.”

Conley said stealing and breaking the equipment is only part of the way the thieves are taking from the community.

“It means higher water bills for everyone,” said Conley. ”We’re just hoping that we can get it to stop. You know, maybe call in if you know any of these. We’ve got to prevent it because we can’t get the water rates down if we don’t.”

He said thousands of dollars are lost every month, something the public can help rectify by reporting water theft issues. Those issues can be reported anonymously to the water district.

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