News Feature | May 12, 2017

Teens Face Water Supply Tampering Charges In Indiana

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

From contamination risks to water main breaks, water utility pros ward off countless threats to clean water delivery on any given day. Yet for one utility, all that hard work was foiled this month by an unlikely foe: pesky teens.

Perry County, IN, recently had a run-in with the community’s youth.

“County Sheriff Alan Malone says three minors are in custody after a breach in Troy’s water storage tank. Troy Utilities discovered the doors to the water reservoir had been broken into, and the nearby community building was vandalized,” Tristate Homepage reported.

“Authorities in Perry County think they know who. Three juveniles were detained in connection to the break-ins. They face charges of tampering with the water supply, impairment of utilities, criminal mischief, burglary and theft,” the report said.

The utility shut down the reservoir and sent out a “do not consume” order to ratepayers. Issued on May 1, the order was lifted on May 3, according to The Evansville Courier & Press. Resolving the issue cost local government about $15,000, which paid to clean the reservoir, test samples, and buy bottled water for ratepayers, Tristate Homepage reported.

Troy Utilities Operations Manager Bernard Linn speculated on why it happened.

"I don't know, you know, I guess they were just out doing some damage. The way it looks to me, I think it was some teenagers doing some damage. That’s what I’d like to know. It don't make a bit of sense. I mean come on. You got three thousand people here you'd be affecting. Why would you want to do something like that?" he said, per the report.

The town purchased 330 cases of water to hand out to ratepayers.

The American Water Works Association journal noted in an article on vandalism that “risk assessment, security measures, and established emergency plans are vital components of system protection.”