JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Public Works Director Bob Miller held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the penalties an individual could face for tampering with water meters.
“Tampering with or destroying your water meter is a criminal offense. Having an illegal water connection, otherwise known as straight-line piping is a criminal offense,” said Miller.
The presser came a day after Mayor Lumumba revealed that the City of Jackson his filed a $225 million lawsuit against Siemens Corporation.
Miller said they’ve found that some water customers have been purposely taking steps to prevent the city from remotely monitoring water consumption by cutting wires from the meters or destroying them.
According to Miller, tampering with meters and having an illegal water connection, known as “straight piping”, is a criminal offense. Anyone caught tampering with or destroying the city’s meters or stealing water will be subject to arrest, imprisonment and a substantial fine.
The investigation has also revealed that some employees may have advised residents on how to avoid water bills. Miller added that any employee who aids in the illegal avoidance of billing is subject to the same consequences.
Miller said it is too soon to say how many employees or customers are involved; “but what I can say though is that it’s a substantial number and we will be taking action over the next several weeks,” he explained.
Customer complaints and longtime rumors are some of the ways Miller was lead on to the tampering problem. “Some of it has been informal reports from employees. But taken together, that gave me the impetus to have the investigators brought into place and move forward,” he said.
Miller said he is prepared to take serious action on the matter. “We have evidence that I will be preparing into a sworn affidavit, taken to the police, taken to municipal court, for prosecution,” he said.