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‘Justified’ cause

Raising livestock under residential account puts owners on top 10 list for water use.

Clifton Adcock November 23rd, 2011

One of the residential water customers who ranked in this year’s top 10 water users in Oklahoma City said there is good reason for all their water use: livestock — lots of them.

On Oct. 19, Oklahoma Gazette published the top 10 residential and top 10 commercial users of Oklahoma City water.

At No. 8 on the list of residential users provided by the city was an account for Rodney and Shauna Timms, 7515 S.W. 119th, showing around 2.1 million gallons of water used between September 2010 to August 2011.

On Nov. 4, the Gazette received a letter from the law offices of Fellers Snider, which had been retained by the Timms, stating the two had been portrayed as “excessive and wasteful” water users, and that that portrayal was “false and misleading” and “invades the Timms’ privacy, and casts them in a false light.”

“The Timms’ home … is zoned and used for agricultural purposes,” wrote attorney Regina Marsh. “The Gazette inaccurately listed the Timms as residential water users. The article fails to mention that the Timms’ property, and hence the water usage at such property, supports and maintains approximately 70 head of livestock. Of course, the Timms’ care for these animals requires significantly more water than the typical ‘residential’ uses.”

Public records from the Cleveland County Assessor’s Office show that the land in question is zoned agricultural and has a home sitting on it.

However, a single water-utility account with a residential customer code is used at the property, said Debbie Ragan, public information and marketing director for the Oklahoma City utilities department.

While the city does have customer codes for agricultural use, certain qualification guidelines exist.

“There should be no structure of any kind. If there’s a house or mobile home, it must be inspected and confirmed unlivable and have no utility service — basically, a barn,” Ragan said. “If there is electric service, just to verify bills or minimum bills, (it must be) for security light only.”

She said that because the Timms’ water account also serves the home with a garage — at 3,694 and 1,070 square feet, respectively, according to county assessor records — it is considered a residential account. No second agricultural water account exists for that address, Ragan said.

“He may do some agricultural activities with his water, but with this large house and garage, there’s only one meter, and so this qualifies him for a residential customer code and not agricultural,” she said. “It’s understandable if he had 70 head of cattle; his water use is pretty justified.”

Editor’s note: Oklahoma Gazette plans to include agricultural accounts in future articles on city water use.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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11.29.2011 at 06:45 Reply

When that article ran I figured it was only a matter of time before someone sued the Gazette.  Though the information they used is publically available, I'm naturally hoping that no such lawsuits have traction.  Especially since it would seem that those lodging such suits seem to be misrepresenting themselves in those cases.  It wouldn't even surprise me if their attempts to sue the Gazette are actually a means to pay their water bill.

In case these people actually doubt there is a reason to be concerned about our water supplies, I recommend downloading Google Earth.  The most recent Satelite Image is about 2 months old.  Juxtapose that image against the image taken the previous year using the historical imagery feature while viewing Lakes Hefner and Overholser and prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Long story short, when the water level in Lake Hefer is so low that it's below the end of the marina's boat launch, there is definitely a problem.