$20,000 worth of damage and theft at Columbia treatment facility; city offers reward.

Columbia's South sewage treatment lagoon sustained well over $20,000 worth of damage as result of vandals shooting up aerators, stealing a pump, a boat, and tearing down gates. The Columbia Board of Alderman issued a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction.

Columbia Mayor Robert Bourne said the operator of Columbia's Water and Sewage Department reported the destruction and theft of city property at Columbia's Waste Water Treatment Facility,

"We've had vandalism and apparently burglary at our South lagoon."

Bourne said the vandals shot aerators in the pond with rifles, stole a $6,000 pump, a boat and trolling motor, tore down the gate leading into the property, damaged the grounds with 4X4 trucks, and made off with thousands of dollars worth of water testing equipment. The property at the North lagoon also sustained damage consistent with mud riding the same night.

Bourne said, "Total cost not including the security of the gates to repair that is about 20 something thousand dollars." Beyond replacing and repairing everything lost, the city will have to take added measures to secure the site with fencing and cameras with the community footing the bill for the vandalism. Bourne said, "Who carries the burden, taxpayers because we don't have insurance on that kind of thing. We've got everything else ensured and we've got act of god insurance on aerators like lightening hitting them, but we don't have theft and that kind of thing."

Bourne said he immediately got the police and sheriff's departments involved, and Columbia's Board of Aldermen is taking the investigation one step further.

"The board decided and moved to offer a $5,000 reward for the arrest and or conviction of the responsible party," Bourne said.

If you have any information on these acts of vandalism and burglary please contact the Columbia Police Department or Marion County Sheriff's Office.