A 42-YEAR-old Rosedale farmer was fined after pleading guilty to interfering with a water meter on his property.
The man used a magnet to interfere with a bore, allowing him to take water without the consent of Southern Rural Water.
A SRW officer noticed the magnet, which stopped the meter functioning and recording the amount of water being used.
The officer removed the magnet and the meter began functioning.
The farmer was questioned and made a full admission to using the magnet, saying he panicked about potentially exceeding his water allocation.
It was estimated that the meter did not record about 30 megalitres of water, valued at between $1500 and $2400.
The man, who had suffered financial hardship after last year's dairy crisis, as well as health issues, said he was remorseful and embarrassed.
Magistrate Simon Garnett said there was grounds for "specific and general deterrence" in his sentencing.
"I consider the matter to be serious offending," he said.
The man was fined $2500 plus costs, without conviction.