Carefree to receive water penalty proposal

By Curtis Riggs | May 20, 2009

Realtor wastes 113,000 gallons
CAREFREE – Carefree Water Company General Manager Stan Francom asked the water company board of directors (Carefree Town Council) about instituting a penalty for water theft last week.

Francom made the request after a realtor recently turned on the water meter in a vacant home and used 113,000 gallons of water before the active meter was discovered.

The realtor, who was representing a home foreclosed on by Deutsche Bank, filled the pool and was using water around the home. Francom said the water loss was due to these actions and a leak, which was losing 45 gallons of water an hour.

The $1,100 bill was racked up over a five-month period. Francom said neither the meter being on nor the loss of water would have been detected if the water company was not using a new automatic water meter reading system.

Francom said he was seeking the new penalty not only because of the case where the $1,100 water bill was incurred, but because three other similar cases occurred last month.
“I plan to ask for a penalty for these actions next month,” he said. “We need to establish a fine to get people to stop doing this.”

Francom said the realtor has been contacted about the problem and pledged to pay the bill, which will not go past due until May 25. Francom indicated the realtor likely hopes the bank will take care of the bill. Working out a payment plan for the bill is another option if the bank does not cover it.

Francom’s new penalty would also cover the unauthorized taking of water from fire hydrants. Carefree and the Cave Creek Water Company have had problems with both issues in the past. Despite this the Cave Creek Water Company does not have a penalty for the unauthorized taking of water, said Cave Creek Utilities Department Assistant Manager Mike Rigney.

He said. “We would have to determine how much water is taken and then assess a fee.”