James Hunter

Friday, July 10, 2015

Water Thieves, Rustlers and Vandals!

Update July 15, 2015 Tom Sellek apparently resolved the water theft issues, as a long-time fan of his glad to here this has been cleared up.

Update July 12, 2015 It seems to be getting a bit like the wild west, folks are stealing water trucks then stealing water to fill them. A local Santa Clara nudist camp owners were arrested for stealing water, but they thought they were "grandfathered" into having rights to the water. Are they all wet?

Update July 10, 2015 I was wrong in how long it took! A well know actor has been incriminated in "Water Rustling (Theft)", SoCal.  In another incident vandahls opened hydrants and wasted 6 million gallons.

It may be fiction today, but what about next year?

It's bound to show up, if it hasn't already, water being stolen or exposed water pipes and spigots (outdoor faucets) being vandalized. The high water rates plus drought surcharges means the cost of water has tripled or more, in a short period of time. We're lucky in that stealing water is not quite practical this year a CCF (hundred cubic feet, 748 gallons) is a bit heavy and bulky. The most likely thing happening is a neighbor notices you're gone for the weekend, really simple to run a hose and top off a pool or a spa quickly and quietly or water their shrubbery, on your buck. Since it's hard to check your meter (San Jose Water Company), so you find your water has been rustled when you get your next bill (bi-monthly, every other month). I can easily imagine the call to customer service.................... Can you prove someone stole water from you? It doesn't have a serial number, it looks the same as your neighbors water? An interesting problem, as SJWC would hold you responsible for water use, when it goes through their meter it's your water and your responsibility!

The next and more likely problem is vandalism. We all have seen the graffiti a spray can of paint, can cost hundreds of dollars to clean up or paint over.  A malicious key scratch on a car door can cost the owner a couple of hundred dollars, to fix. Why, someone doesn't like Prius Hybrids, the color of you or your car, your pants don't sag and your hat is the wrong color? You did something that someone remembers as a criticism or a slight. So, when you not home they turn on your water and let it run, it's your water and you're going to pay for it. It can get worse a simple swing of a large hammer can break the outdoor faucette and to stop the water flow you would need to shut the water off at the water meter. The vandal does a gratuitous bit of economic harm to you, for some unknown reason and collects a bronze/cooper faucette, yours. Again it's unlikely the local police will want to do anything, which gets you back to calling, SURPRISE, your local water company customer service agent. Who will be "sympathetic" if you're lucky and who will remind you that when the water goes through the water meter you own the water!

If you're lucky the the local water cop (actually your local water company water repairman or meter reader) will notice the water running down the street, to the storm sewer. They'll simply report your watering your yard at the wrong time and are wasting water, you'll get a warning........one step away from your local water company, in my case SJWC, putting a flow restrictor on my meter that I would have to pay to have removed.

You can in fact at least take a picture of the broken faucette to show your local water company that you were the victim of vandalism. Attach it to the email you should send describing date and times of the incident. If this is your first case and you get the one supportive customer service agent, I'm sure there is one, they may recommend your paying them for all the water that went down the storm sewer.

The typical 5/8 or 3/4 inch faucet will provide a flow at the faucet of 15-30 gallons/minute. Using the lower figure 15 gal/min. x 60 = 900 gallons per hour, if your in the 100% plus usage you'll be paying $12-$14 an hour or if it runs for a day your water bill could see a surprise $288 to $576, in a day. Oh, when you call to report the problem that occurred be sure you took the kids to DisneyLand, don't mention Las Vegas, you'll possibly get a small bit of sympathy for the kiddies at Disneyland or the sick relative in Phoenix.

If you've been rustled or vandalized there are some low cost solutions, besides having security cameras on the outdoor faucets:

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