Connecting to the water supply network without authorization is an offense: perpetrators risk jail sentences as well as paying fines and legal costs.
It is often portrayed as the easiest “solution” and, unfortunately, it is also unwisely promoted and supported by movements and committees. The truth is that for unauthorized users of water services, reported and sent to trial, it ends up being a big problem.
In fact, tampering with water pipes to use water or reconnect to the water mains – for example, after the Provider has interrupted the service because bills have not been paid – amounts to theft, an offense that necessarily comes with some of the aggravating circumstances defined by the Italian Criminal Code (for example, removing the Provider’s seals, tampering with the network to connect to the water mains). Perpetrators face between 2 and 6 years in jail and a fine between €927 and €1500.
Charges may be brought against anyone who materially commits the offense, but also against anyone who “simply” takes advantage of it.
The position of unauthorized users worsens if, for example, in addition to reconnecting to the water mains without authorization, they report their meter “stolen”, while instead it has been blocked by the Provider, after numerous reminders, for not paying the bills. In this case, users may be charged with slander – automatically subject to prosecution – for knowingly making a false report to the authorities. A serious offense that carries heavy penalties.
We must remember that the installation and removal or the new installation of water meters, whatever the reason, can be carried out only by the Provider of the water service, to guarantee their correct installation and readings.
Additionally, users may commit other offenses. For example, using padlocks or other means to prevent Acea Ato 5 operators from accessing the water meter. In these cases, users may be charged with duress.
As a result, Authorities may order the preventive seizure of the unauthorized installation, also in order to prevent further consequences.
Finally, we must remember that article 11 of the Integrated Water Service Regulation, an integral part of the Management Agreement, states that “Meters must be installed in a way that allows them to work properly and be easily accessed for readings and maintenance”; while article 14 says that “meters are the property of the Provider; users are the consignees and are responsible for any tampering or damage they may be subject to”.
Access to the meters is necessary to guarantee the correct management of the water supply, in the interest of both the user and the Provider.