MILLIONS of litres of water is being lost every year because people are illegally tapping into fire and third-party hydrants.

Matt Thompson from Yorkshire Water said the situation is becoming so bad it's endangering lives as damage is being done to the hydrants, and this has a knock-on effect for firefighters.

The company estimates it loses up to 20 million litres of water in the region every month because of the illegal activity.

Specific figures for Barnsley are not yet available but the spokesman said water theft in the region reached an all time high last year - with an estimated 25 million litres of water being illegally siphoned from hydrants in just 31 days.