Water Meter Tampering Upgraded to Misdemeanor in Rio Grande

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RIO GRANDE CITY – The Rio Grande City Police Department will start looking out for anyone who might be tampering with water meters.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS has reported in the past about the rampant water abuse in Rio Grande City.

People use magnets to slow down water meters or stop them all together. It’s a problem all over the Rio Grande Valley, not just in Starr County.

Rio Grande City hopes to put a stop to it.

“Anyone caught violating the provision, they will be cited. Now the police department is involved. And this in turn turns into a Class C misdemeanor punishable up to $500,” city manager Alberto Perez said.

Perez said when citizens steal water, they’re stealing taxpayer dollars.

Before the new measure passed, code enforcement crews would turn off the water temporarily when someone was caught tampering with a meter.

“Basically, it was just a slap on the hand and we’d go forward,” Perez said.

Police will be involved in every case; it won’t just be the city’s code enforcement.

People, like Jose Flores, said it’s about time.

“If you’re stealing water – no,” he said.

The amount of water lost is unclear. At the end of the month, the new digital water meters will be installed everywhere city wide.

Perez said once that’s done, the city will know how much water is being stolen.

He hopes making water tampering a criminal matter will help put a stop to the stealing.

Rio Grande City also passed two other ordinances – texting and driving is now banned in city limits and celebratory gunfire is also now a criminal offense.


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