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Auburn, Calif.- The Placer County Water Agency is urging Gov. Brown to approve two legislative bills that aim to reduce the theft of copper and other metals and allow owners to recover costs from recyclers and junk dealers who deal in stolen materials.

In a report at Thursday’s (Sept. 6) meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors, General Manager David Breninger said metal theft has cost the water agency $105,550 over the past five years, plus staff time to remedy the losses.

“The recent rise in scrap metal prices has made the theft and sale of these materials valuable,” he said. “It’s a growing concern for us.” The discussion included a staff presentation by Director of Field Services Mike Nichol and Director of Customer Services Matt Young, who provided an overview of metal theft, and the theft of water, another issue the agency has been dealing with. Nichol said copper, brass, aluminum plate, various wiring and other materials have been stolen from agency water systems, affecting water operations and bringing unexpected repair costs.

Young said the agency has experienced an increased number of cases of unauthorized water use, including illegal pumping and diversion of water from canals and the illegal tapping of fire hydrants on the piped water system.
He detailed an extreme case in which a resident made multiple efforts to bypass a water meter that eventually led PCWA to seek law enforcement assistance.  He said the illegal actions cost the agency several thousand dollars. “All for a $45 water bill,” he said.

Young said that in addition to the agency’s $250 water meter tampering charge, the agency would seek to recover damages from the responsible party.

The State Senate bills, SB 1387 and SB 1045, are now before the governor, awaiting his signature.

In other business, PCWA directors:

  • received a presentation from Senior Engineer Tony Firenzi on a project to upgrade an existing water well and develop a second well on PCWA property in the Sunset Industrial Area of Rocklin. Well water is used for emergency backup and to meet peak demand conditions, according to the agency’s groundwater management plan.
  • heard an update on recent discussions with the Hidden Valley Community Association, which operates private water systems serving the 160-home Hidden Valley area of Granite Bay. PCWA and the association have been exploring a potential partnership through which the system could be upgraded and operated as part of the PCWA public water system.

Information on PCWA board meetings may be obtained through the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.