At least 25,000 litres of drinking water stolen amid Australia drought

‘This kind of theft is not acceptable,’ said police

Kate Ng
Thursday 12 December 2019 11:02
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Thieves steal 25,000 litres of water amid Australia drought

Police are investigating the theft of roughly 25,000 litres of drinking water from a council facility in the state of New South Wales, which has been hit by severe a drought and bushfires.

The alleged thieves arrived in the town of Murwillumbah with a water tanker and a Toyota Hilux on Monday night.

Detective Chief Inspector Luke Arthurs said the act of stealing water during a time of hardship for the state was “shocking”.

He said: “This kind of theft is not acceptable. Police will continue to investigate the incident and are pleading with anyone with information to contact us.”

The amount of water stolen could potentially fill up to seven fire trucks, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bushfires devastating New South Wales have burned about 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush and destroyed over 400 homes.

At least four people have been killed by the fires since they began in November.

Other parts of the country are also being affected by water shortages. A school in Queensland announced its groundwater supplies are running dry, prompting a call for the state government to declare a water emergency.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Tamborine Mountain State School advised parents to send their children to school with additional bottles of drinking water due to the shortage.

Residents in the Tamborine Mountain rely largely on groundwater and tank water supplies, and believe commercial water extraction by companies such as Coca Cola is “threatening their wellbeing”.

Protest group Save Our Water Tamborine Mountain has called for the Minister of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Anthony Lynham, to suspend commercial water extraction.

A representative of the group, Craig Peter, told ABC: “Under the Water Act of 2000… we believe he has the power to essentially say there is a shortage of water that is threatening the wellbeing of people and the health of the people up here.”

Lynham responded to the calls for an emergency, saying the government has no power to limit commercial water extraction due to a lack of regulation.

He said: “I do have the power to limit take in a declared water shortage – but that is everyone’s take, including local farmers, households, and businesses.”

On Wednesday night, bushfire also broke out in Perth and authorities have issued an emergency warning for the people in Yanchep, Two Rocks, Breakwater Estate, and Sea Trees Estate to evacuate.

The “uncontrolled” fires are expected to continue for at least two more days due to strong winds, reports WA Today, having already blazed through about 3,212 acres of land.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said: “The alert level for this fire has been upgraded as the fire is out of control and unpredictable.”

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