Chester Metropolitan District and Chester County Sheriff’s Office are Cracking Down on Water Theft and Meter Tampering

Chester Metropolitan District (CMD) has experienced an increase in unauthorized water usage over the last few years.  The increase of water theft and meter tampering has been mainly from individuals that have had their water disconnected due to non-payment and businesses that have mobile water operations such as construction contractors, landscapers, and mobile car washing. With help from the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, and for the purpose of saving CMD customers money on their own water bill, CMD is taking steps to actively catch and prosecute individuals who participate in unauthorized water use in Chester County and the municipalities of Chester County. 

Unauthorized water use includes but is not limited to:

  • Turning on water that is off due to non-payment, disconnection of service, etc.;
  • Tampering or altering a meter to cause it to inaccurately measure and register the water consumed;
  • Removing or bypassing a water meter; and
  • Using water from a fire hydrant without paying the permit fee and having a CMD issued hydrant meter. This does not apply during emergencies when the hydrant is being used by emergency responders.

Water rates are set each year based on the cost to produce and deliver clean water to customers. If water is produced and delivered that is not paid for, that additional cost must be included in the water rate. In the end, unauthorized water use increases your water bill as well as your friends’ and neighbors’ water bills. 

South Carolina has several state laws that prohibit meter tampering and theft from water, gas, and electric utilities. 

§ 16-13-385. Altering, tampering with, or bypassing electric, gas, or water meters.

§ 6-11-280. Interference with sewers, waterworks and drainage facilities of political subdivision; penalties.

§ 6-11-285. Civil penalties for violations of permit conditions or regulations of public entities which operate wastewater plants or treatment facilities, water treatment facilities, or water distribution systems; hearings and appeals.

In addition to prosecuting the individuals that are not paying for water, state law also allows CMD to obtain a lien against the property that service was provided to.

§ 6-11-170. Lien for rates; suits therefor.

We have great customers and want to stop each of you from having to bear the burden of water being used by those that do not pay for their water usage.  Thank you.

Chester Metropolitan District

Fred W. Castles, III, PE
Executive Director

About the author: susanroddey

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