Gate theft sparks safety fears

By Alana Christensen

A spate of thefts has seen six steel gates stolen from access points to irrigation channels in the north-west of the Murray Valley Irrigation District, frustrating Goulburn-Murray Water employees and raising concerns regarding safety.

The gates, attached to fencing to keep livestock and the public away from plastic-lined channels, were stolen sometime on Monday or Tuesday last week from Morris Rd, Yalca.

The channel is located just south of the Murray Valley Hwy, near the intersection of Morris and Waaia-Bearii Rds.

The incident followed the theft of four gates on the July 14 and 15 weekend, also on Morris Rd.

Last year, G-MW had to replace gates that were stolen along Chapel Rd and Healy Rd, Cobram.

‘‘The gates are there to ensure access to irrigation channels is restricted to authorised G-MW staff or contractors,’’ G-MW Murray Valley customer service manager Brendan Brooks said.

‘‘If stock get access along the channel they may have difficulty getting out,’’ he said.

‘‘Plastic-lined channels also pose a drowning risk to animals, and people of course.’’

Tools, including bolt-cutters, were used in the thefts.

Mr Brooks said the cost of each gate, about $150, would ultimately be passed on to irrigation customers.

‘‘It’s really the petty nature of the crimes that is so frustrating and disappointing,’’ he said.

‘‘Someone is out there blatantly stealing these gates just to save a few dollars on their own property, but it is costing farmers and creating a real risk for the wider community.’’