What if you couldn't care for your pets and animals due to lack of water? What if you had to stay at a hotel just miles away from your home because there was no running water? What if the only solutions that have been offered are either to “deal with it” or move? That's what John Fitzgerald says he has had to endure ever since moving to his country home last fall.

"We moved here last October, and we've always had problems with the water," Fitzgerald said. "Usually it's only been either very low water pressure or periods of two, three, four hours of where we don't have water at all. But this past weekend, from 4 p.m. Friday afternoon until 2 a.m. Monday morning, we had no water at all."

Fitzgerald lives on a county road approximately two miles east of Stratford, in Rural Water District 8.

"We've continuously called the water district saying we have no water," Fitzgerald said.

"They never have any answers, they never have any solutions. I got to the point of where I was so frustrated I started calling members of the board and they basically all said the same thing: 'Sorry, you'll just have to live with it.' And one person on the board actually said to me, 'Well, you either have two choices: You have to live with it or find another place to live.'

"When he said that to me, that really just set me off. For one, rural water is a municipal water. It's their obligation to provide water all the time, not to tell me that I just have to deal with it. Two, it's not his position to threaten or bully me by saying that I have to deal with it or find another place to live. That's not right."

Sam Estes, former manager of RWD 8 said that approximately 1,450 people are serviced by the line that covers the western half of Pontotoc County. Questioned about customers who have little to no running water, Estes said they have had complaints of problems during peak usage, and have mailed letters to customers Tuesday, asking to conserve water. He also said that RWD 8 is in the initial stages of installing bigger lines to pump more water to customers, with construction slated to begin by the end of summer.

Tired of the same answers to his questions and seeing no results, Fitzgerald filed reports with both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Both the EPA and DEQ have started formal investigations as of Monday," Fitzgerald said. "And both tell me that they're in violation and subject to fines, because they have to produce water for every person that is on their line. And if there's a problem, it is up to them to rectify it."

Monty Elder, spokesperson for the DEQ said they were investigating the complaint and would have initial information for Fitzgerald by the weekend.

"It is true that low water pressure in some cases can be a violation of DEQ public supply rules," Elder acknowledged. "Whether or not that is the case in this situation, we don't know since it's currently being investigated. We will get some initial information to him by the end of the week."

Sam Estes, former manager of RWD 8 said that approximately 1,450 people are serviced by the line that covers the western half of Pontotoc County. When questioned about customers who have little to no running water, Estes said they have had complaints of problems during peak usage, and have mailed out letters to customers Tuesday, asking to conserve water. He also said that RWD 8 is in the initial stages of installing bigger lines to pump more water to customers, with construction slated to begin by the end of summer.

"They all just basically have this attitude of 'Well you know, this has been going on for a long time," Fitzgerald said. "We have some projects in the works.' I asked them when these projects were going to be completed and they say 'not next week' and when I ask when, they have no answer on when it will be done."

Sporadic water times have become commonplace for Fitzgerald. He said that in addition to random water loss, he's noticed times when it may or may not be available for use.

"The water came on Monday morning at 2 a.m., and then it went off at 1:30 p.m. and was off until 10 p.m.," he said. "When it comes back on, the water's been great, but you know, that's the usual m.o. The worst times are from Friday afternoon until Sunday, and during the week after 5 p.m. That's basically the problem and that they're not willing to do anything about it, and they really don't seem to care."

One thing that Fitzgerald is most concerned with is water for his 20 horses.

"Our livelihood is our horse ranch and it got so bad over the weekend to where we didn't know if the water was going to come back on or not, we had to go to Home Depot and buy 20 five gallon water jugs just to water our horses," he said. "Horses require a tremendous amount of water just to maintain their health and they'll die quickly without it. I also had to go rent a hotel room just so that I could have a place to shower. This is Ada, America. This is not some third world country. We shouldn't have to live like that."

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