Officials at the Southern Water and Sewer District announced on May 28 that the time for amnesty is over.

At the recommendation of Utilities Management Group, district officials gave residents who are illegally getting water the opportunity to come into the office from May 1 through May 15 and sign up for services, no questions asked, 

UMG Owner Greg May and UMG Special Projects Manager Don Compton told the Southern Water commission on May 28 that four people accepted that opportunity for amnesty. May said one new customer who came in reported receiving water illegally since 2010. 

May asked for guidance from the commission on what to do with others who are illegally obtaining water. He brought four pipefittings to the meeting to show the commission what residents use to bypass Southern Water meters and get water illegally.

“I think you’ve got to prosecute,” Commissioner Steve Dawson told him — a statement with which other commissioners agreed. 

Commissioner Rick Roberts said the district “could be held liable” if they “look the other way” for water theft, while Grondall Potter of UMG told them that if water theft caused water quality issues, the Kentucky Division of Water could cite the district.

May initially asked for approval to work with the Floyd County Attorney to prosecute water theft cases. Commissioners told him, however, that permission is not necessary because UMG is managing the district. 

UMG officials said they would communicate with Southern Water attorney Steven Bailey as the criminal cases are filed. May and Potter said UMG will provide documentation of alleged theft of services that include the length of time water has been illegally obtained. In cases where the value of the water stolen is more than $500, residents can be charged with a felony, officials said.

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