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Thread: The Case of the Disappearing Water

  1. #1

    The Case of the Disappearing Water

    The Case of the Disappearing Water

    Hey everyone,

    I had something happen recently in my life that I thought might be an interesting discussion topic for the Engaged Center. Below is a real story of what happened and most of the circumstances that I took into consideration to make a decision as what direction to move. But Iím leaving without telling what we have actually determined and how we decided to move forward, because thatís where the discussion comes in.

    Your assignment (if you choose to play):

    Read the situation and comment as to what you would do and why. What comes up for you when you think about the situation and what factors play into how you would move forward.

    This is meant to be a fun intellectual conversation about how you would react and what action you would take.


    The Situation:

    While paying bills this month, I noticed our water bill was super high. Like more than double last year! I looked further into the charts and stats and found the following. In July, our water usage suddenly spiked going to more than double what had been typical for the past years. It has stayed that high through the current bill. On average in previous years we were using 70 gallons a day, now the average was 190 gallons!

    There were a couple of typical options leaks in the house or change in water usage, both have been checked and proven not to be the culprit. Additionally, we do know that water was used when we werenít home because we checked the meter after we had been gone all day and it had shown use.

    Where is the water going? The only clue is that we do have a hose bib (spicket) on the front of our house. Our running theory is that someone is using the water from the hose.

    Additional Facts that weight in the decision making:

    I live in a lower middle-class neighborhood, where most people work hard and make ends meet; but times are getting harder for everyone. There is a large homeless and transient population developing in and around where I live. And people living in RVís/trailers and moving around the area is also high.

    The Question:

    What do you do?
    Should you but a lock on the gate and/or on the hose bib cutting off the water supply?
    Should you try to catch the person doing it and report them to the police?
    Should you do nothing, because youíve been paying the bill for 6 months without it causing a hardship?


    As I said at the beginning, this is a real situation and is currently happening in my household. We have come to a solution so I donít need suggestions as to what I should do.

    Instead think as if this was your house, your water bill, and what you would determine to be the right course of action. If you need more information to make a determination as to what you would do, then fill in the blanks for yourself and tell us what your thought process was.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  2. #2
    Well, for me the volume of water is an issue. People are using more water than your family. That might suggest more than one set of people drawing your water. The odd thing to me is that sounds like this is a daily occurrence.

    I would want to know more about what was actually happening so I would try to set up some sort of video camera (trail cam / security cam) to learn more about what was going on. That would help me decide what to do. I would want to try and talk with whomever was doing this and understand the situation.

    For me I would pretty quickly secure my hose bib. It is important to be generous, but that is an awful lot of water.

    So if I had to choose among your 3 options I would try to catch the person who is doing this, but not automatically turn them over to the police. I would want to understand better the circumstance first - heck I would like to know if is more than one group! And work from there. Looking to find a solution that doesn't involve you providing that much water for free.

    Gassho, Allan

    SaT-LaH
    What's so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding.

  3. #3
    Fascinating to think about....

    I agree with Allan's solution.
    Living in the desert SW, water is a scarce and precious commodity. LA and California has its own water issues. I hear occasionally that the next big wars will be water wars!!
    I'd try to find the 'thief'. Clearly someone who doesn't have access to running water? Maybe help them find low income government assistance. Clean water for everyone is a right or should be. But I'd not be keen on a free running tap in my front yard, not knowing if the spigot is turned off or water wasted.
    my two cents.

    bows.
    Anne
    ~st~

  4. #4
    Member Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    I have also heard recently about many water companies in California-- at least in my area-- that are not calculating water usage correctly, resulting in massive hikes. Perhaps ask some of your neighbors if their bill is going up as well?

    Sat today, lah
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I have also heard recently about many water companies in California-- at least in my area-- that are not calculating water usage correctly, resulting in massive hikes. Perhaps ask some of your neighbors if their bill is going up as well?

    Sat today, lah
    Geika,

    That is true for people who are getting new meters, and was something that I checked. We still have the good old meter and the readings are correct.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  6. #6
    Hmmm this is a tricky one.

    I am what my friends call a "helper", as in I help others to the point of it almost being a fault, as I have put myself in some tight financial circumstances due to helping beyond my means. So first order would be to make sure I dont put myself or my family into hardship (my wife does a lovely job of keeping me in check!).

    I would likely place a lock on the water tap, however I wouldn't lock it every day. Perhaps keeping it unlocked 2 days a week for people to come and use, whether it is to fill water jugs or their RV clean water tank. I may also think of putting up a camera or 2 as well just for home security.

    I think it is a balancing act between being overly generous and too stingy. You dont want to go bankrupt over water, but you also wish to help others out, and water is so vitally important.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    I would lock it up. Put out a sign that says ďask permission and you may receiveĒ. So what feelings came up...Am I being stingy, not generous, etc...but quickly balanced those feelings with the fact they were stealing.

    PS that is a lot of water, there must be a line at your faucet as soon as you leave (no underground pipe leak??)

    Doshin
    St

  8. #8
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    Hmmm..I had a similar situation which took months to resolve.
    The Water Company can read the meter from outside the house with a drive by.
    Found out after many months, and contacting the Director of the Water a Department, that their NEW electronic water measuring equipment was faulty.

    They adjusted my bills accordingly. Took over a year to resolve.

    I also had a water line break, which again, was another, totally separate situation.

    Now..if it was a "thief", I would have shut the outdoor spicket off from inside the house. It could have started with water, but perhaps continued on to other things....where DID my lawnmower go?

    I'm all about helping someone, especially with basic life necessities like water, but unfortunately, sometimes it can escalate to other things, and until identified and dealt with accordingly, could go either way.

    Correctly identify the loss of water.
    Take corrective action.
    Keep your Buddhist precepts in mind.

    Gassho
    Koki
    Satoday


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshi View Post
    Well, for me the volume of water is an issue. People are using more water than your family. That might suggest more than one set of people drawing your water. The odd thing to me is that sounds like this is a daily occurrence.

    I would want to know more about what was actually happening so I would try to set up some sort of video camera (trail cam / security cam) to learn more about what was going on. That would help me decide what to do. I would want to try and talk with whomever was doing this and understand the situation.

    For me I would pretty quickly secure my hose bib. It is important to be generous, but that is an awful lot of water.

    So if I had to choose among your 3 options I would try to catch the person who is doing this, but not automatically turn them over to the police. I would want to understand better the circumstance first - heck I would like to know if is more than one group! And work from there. Looking to find a solution that doesn't involve you providing that much water for free.

    Gassho, Allan

    SaT-LaH
    Shinshi,
    You are welcome to give your own option, my questions are just to start the conversation. But you are correct, part of the concern/ problem for me is the level of usage. We aren’t talking about a few gallons daily or a once a week occurrence.

    My household is only 2 people and we are both pretty environmentally minded so we actually have a pretty low usage in comparison to the averages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post
    Fascinating to think about....

    I agree with Allan's solution.
    Living in the desert SW, water is a scarce and precious commodity. LA and California has its own water issues. I hear occasionally that the next big wars will be water wars!!
    I'd try to find the 'thief'. Clearly someone who doesn't have access to running water? Maybe help them find low income government assistance. Clean water for everyone is a right or should be. But I'd not be keen on a free running tap in my front yard, not knowing if the spigot is turned off or water wasted.
    my two cents.

    bows.
    Anne
    ~st~
    Anne,
    You are right, water is super precious in areas that don’t have it free flowing. The crazy weather this winter has finally gotten SoCal out of a drought, but it’s not likely to “fix” the problem for more than a season or two.

    Access to water isn’t a problem if you have a home, and we are lucky in LA to just be asked to save. There are some areas where there is much stricter enforcement of rationing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyo View Post
    Hmmm this is a tricky one.

    I am what my friends call a "helper", as in I help others to the point of it almost being a fault, as I have put myself in some tight financial circumstances due to helping beyond my means. So first order would be to make sure I dont put myself or my family into hardship (my wife does a lovely job of keeping me in check!).

    I would likely place a lock on the water tap, however I wouldn't lock it every day. Perhaps keeping it unlocked 2 days a week for people to come and use, whether it is to fill water jugs or their RV clean water tank. I may also think of putting up a camera or 2 as well just for home security.

    I think it is a balancing act between being overly generous and too stingy. You dont want to go bankrupt over water, but you also wish to help others out, and water is so vitally important.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk
    Junkyo,

    I think this is a really important point. If it was a hardship for my family, like we were facing getting the water turned off…. then it won’t be a question the hose bibs would have to be locked right away.

    Whenever I do CPR, first aid or emergency training, I’m always reminded, “Don’t put yourself into a position where you become a part of the emergency.”

    And I think that is very true, it’s a balancing act. Giving so you aren’t being stingy, but realizing when you are getting close to the tipping point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    I would lock it up. Put out a sign that says “ask permission and you may receive”. So what feelings came up...Am I being stingy, not generous, etc...but quickly balanced those feelings with the fact they were stealing.

    PS that is a lot of water, there must be a line at your faucet as soon as you leave (no underground pipe leak??)

    Doshin
    St
    Doshin,

    Does it make a difference for you that the “stealing” isn’t hurting me financially? Or is stealing stealing regardless or how much or little harm it causes?

    A great example from one of my favorite musicals,
    Javert, “You are a thief”
    Valjean, “I stole a loaf of bread”
    Javert, “You robbed a house”
    Valjean, “I broke a window pane. My sister's child was close to death, and we were starving”



    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    Hmmm..I had a similar situation which took months to resolve.
    The Water Company can read the meter from outside the house with a drive by.
    Found out after many months, and contacting the Director of the Water a Department, that their NEW electronic water measuring equipment was faulty.

    They adjusted my bills accordingly. Took over a year to resolve.

    I also had a water line break, which again, was another, totally separate situation.

    Now..if it was a "thief", I would have shut the outdoor spicket off from inside the house. It could have started with water, but perhaps continued on to other things....where DID my lawnmower go?

    I'm all about helping someone, especially with basic life necessities like water, but unfortunately, sometimes it can escalate to other things, and until identified and dealt with accordingly, could go either way.

    Correctly identify the loss of water.
    Take corrective action.
    Keep your Buddhist precepts in mind.

    Gassho
    Koki
    Satoday


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Koki,
    It’s interesting the question of a slippery slope. Does allowing people access to something they need invite them to take more? I don’t know the answer. It is something Los Angeles and a lot of SoCal are arguing about right now in regards to homeless encampments.



    Thanks to everyone for the replies and comments.


    The Case:

    Several of you mentioned I would want to set up a camera and figure out what was happening to make a better determination. So below are three scenarios of what you found. One of them is actually what happened at my house the other two are what would have been good possibilities.

    Take a moment to read all 3, and then do one of the following:
    1. Pick one scenario and tell what you would do and why. How did the precepts and morals play into your decision?
    2. Compare how the differences in the scenarios change how you would response. Essentially what makes one person taking the water acceptable vs. another. Or does it not make difference in how you would approach this on a moral level?

    Scenario #1:
    You place a camera and find a man is coming during the day, parking an RV in the driveway and obviously filling his tank. It is happening almost daily during the week. You decide to stay home at a strange time and try to catch him so you can talk with him.

    In talking with him, he states that he has been filling his tank and taking the water to a homeless camp. He had been rotating between different areas but with the rise in “hostility towards homeless and transient people, he hasn’t been able to find other sources to fill at.” He states that many businesses where he used to go and rotate around taking water at night have locked their hose bibs and installed more security. The only access they have to water is at a pay station which charges 37 cents per gallon. Because they don’t have a home they can’t get a cheaper rate or use local programs to get free water.

    As to why he kept taking from just this one source, “Because it was simple and no one seemed to care. I had been doing it for months without have the hose removed or a lock or anything.”


    Scenario #2:
    You continue to look around your house to find any possibilities and find another hose bib hidden by the bushes. You place cameras at both and find a neighbor takes the hose daily from the hose bib in the bushes and fills a tank in his van. He runs a mobile car wash.

    Since he is a neighbor you aren’t sure about approaching him because you don’t if he is taking your water on purpose or just by accident since the hose bib is in a bush right at the property line.

    Scenario #3:
    You set-up a camera and see people coming several times a day with containers they fill and then leave. Sometimes it is the same people and sometimes different people. There seems to not be a pattern. So you stay home one day, but no one shows up that day. You try a few times, with no luck. Obviously, they are good at not being around you when are home. So trying to talk to them doesn’t seem possible.


    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  10. #10
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    Plot Twist...if I may?

    Same scenarios above..BUT...

    You are Native American, and had been a Water Protector at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.

    Would this change your point of view? Why?

    Like THIS GUY..




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Doshin,

    Does it make a difference for you that the “stealing” isn’t hurting me financially? Or is stealing stealing regardless or how much or little harm it causes?

    A great example from one of my favorite musicals,
    Javert, “You are a thief”
    Valjean, “I stole a loaf of bread”
    Javert, “You robbed a house”
    Valjean, “I broke a window pane. My sister's child was close to death, and we were starving”

    —————————-
    Ahh, you make it harder for me. But as with life, as you teach, ther are differing ways to see.

    Yes, I would steal to feed a starving child.i would steal a shovel from a neighbor to fight a fire But is that not still stealing? Everyone steals for a reason. I once caught a man breaking into my car. I caught him as he fled, he beged me to understand that he stoled to feed his drug habit. He was “starving” for a fix. He begged me to let him go, which I did. Out of compassion I think, but so long ago Once someone broke into my house and stoled thousands of dollars of possessions and left me a note saying they decided I could keep my pet lizards (which they had removed from the cages and boxed). Another got into my car and stoled costly possessions, possessions that meant something to me beyond the dollar value. I am sure they had reasons. Maybe to feed their addiction, maybe to feed themselves, pay for a warm motel that night or to help a friend. But I taught my children stealing is stealing. Another time I was approached on the street for money, I did not have any and the retort was “at least I am not robbing your house”, should I have thanked him because he did not steal from me. Maybe for me it is the “consequences” where I consider the reasons for the theft. Maybe I am jaded because of my personal experiences. However if the severity of stealing falls along a continum I guess each of us determines where that judgement falls based upon who we are at the time.

    I will continue to ponder. Which I think is your teaching



    Doshin
    Stlah
    Last edited by Doshin; 02-21-2019 at 09:24 PM.

  12. #12
    Hi,

    I would do a spinning side kick, then a jab, a jab and a hook. Then I jump in the air and do a front kick and a headbutt before I hit the ground. Then I turn around and do three rolls and run. Thatís what I do for sure but everyoneís different.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  13. #13
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    Jishin...dont forget to "turn yourself around" (hokey-pokey teaching).
    THATS what it's all about

    Gassho
    Koki

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  14. #14

  15. #15
    I am too old for that. I would take weeks to recover.

    Doshin
    St

    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi,

    I would do a spinning side kick, then a jab, a jab and a hook. Then I jump in the air and do a front kick and a headbutt before I hit the ground. Then I turn around and do three rolls and run. That’s what I do for sure but everyone’s different.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    Doshin,

    Maybe I am jaded because of my personal experiences. However if the severity of stealing falls along a continuum I guess each of us determines where that judgement falls based upon who we are at the time.
    Doshin,

    I think you hit the nail on the head here.

    In college I studied political science, and I remember some of the papers I wrote and what I argued. A decade later, I wouldn't write any of them the same way. Some might be similar but some I would take the exact opposite view point now.

    As we go through topics like this, I think it's important to remember that each person is at a different point in their life and where they stand. There are very few times that anyone is absolutely right or absolutely wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Koki View Post
    Plot Twist...if I may?

    Same scenarios above..BUT...

    You are Native American, and had been a Water Protector at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.

    Would this change your point of view? Why?

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Koki,

    Funny enough, I think you are making the exact same point as Doshin. Someone who is Native American and has been a water protector will probably have a different view point than some like me who is white middle class.

    That's part of why I feel it's important to have conversations like this; because we each get to share what went into making the decision and why. Through sharing that process the Native American water protector can possibly change how I look at access to water. Because many there is something in their thought process on it that I hadn't considered before.

    I know I'm a work in progress, and everything I read, hear and share changes me continually. Does it always change me for the better? Who knows, but it will change me.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  17. #17
    Shoka,
    Thank you for this interesting exercise in ethical thinking.
    In 2014, my wife and I moved to Maceiů, in Northeast Coast of Brazil (now we are in the interior of Bahia). My mother had a house in the city that hadnít been used for some years and she let us live there. The house needed a little reform. In doing it we discovered that the neighbor house had installed a water pipe stealing water from our house. Their house was more than twice the size of ours and even had a pool. We didnít talk to them, only disconnected the pipe.
    I think, at least here in Brazil, the most plausible scenario would be of neighbors stealing your water. Homeless people, at least the here, tend to ask for water, not steal, as they want you to help them in the future as well.
    I would probably do the same thing I did and just close the water so the ones who were stealing couldnít do it any more. If they really need, they will come and talk to me, asking for permission.
    But this is based on my experiences here in my country. I really donít know how things are in the United States.
    Gassho,
    Sat today

  18. #18
    I think you nailed it Mateus. If I had found out that someone was regularly taking water from my outside tap, I’d simply turn off the shutoff from inside. No confrontation. Just shut off the source.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

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