Actor Tom Selleck has settled a dispute with a California water authority over allegations that he stole water from a municipal fire hydrant for his avocado farm, but the details of whether or not he legally paid for the water, and whether or not he committed a crime in taking it, remain murky.
As the L.A. Times reports, since September, 2013, a water delivery truck had been spotted multiple times pulling up to a fire hydrant in Thousand Oaks, California, filling up with water, then delivering it to Selleck’s property. Residents near the hydrant say it was the same man — not Tom Selleck — who filled up the truck each time.
So does that mean that Tom Selleck was stealing the water? Maybe not: according to court documents, a Thousand Oaks construction company — Burns Pacific Construction, Inc. — had legally installed a water meter at the hydrant in question. The construction company’s contract with the water authority allows them to do whatever they please with the water, including sell it to a third party — such as Tom Selleck — as long as they pay the bill. Until the meter was removed in June, 2015, the company had taken as much as 14 million gallons of water from the Thousand Oaks hydrant, according to ABC News. How much of that went to Tom Selleck’s avocado farm is unclear.
As California wrestles with an historic drought, every drop of water is a precious commodity, according to this Inquisitr report. Municipalities have instituted strict water conservation measures, including encouraging residents to take fewer showers, to try to stave off disaster.
So, for a wealthy celebrity like Selleck to have access to, potentially, millions of gallons of water while regular Californians are watching every drop — well, it creates something of a P.R. problem. At least one writer, CNN‘s Jeff Pearlman, says that Selleck absolutely deserves his so-called “drought-shaming.”
“Beneath the makeup and away from the red carpets and Hollywood premiers, [Tom Selleck] is apparently just another self-absorbed, 70-year-old rich guy with two California properties, indifferent to the rapidly deteriorating fortunes of a state run dry.
Or, put another way, he appears to be one of the many people whose selfishness has been exposed by the worst drought in recorded California history, one that is well into its fourth year.”
Even though he appears to have paid for his water legally, albeit through a third party, Selleck nevertheless settled with the Calleguas Municipal Water District over the water-moving issue. Details of the settlement were not made public.
As of this post, it is not clear if Tom Selleck will continue to obtain water from his avocado farm from another source.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison]