U.S. Water News Online
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City says a private golf course owes it $1.6 million for unmetered water it had been using for more than five years.
Utility officials say they removed an unauthorized valve on a water line in September that had been diverting water into a storm drain and eventually into a pond used for irrigation at Staley Farms Golf Course.
Along with the $1.6 million lien filed on the course, Kansas City police are investigating whether a crime was committed. “We've never seen a water loss of this value before,” said Sean Hennessey, acting chief financial officer at the Kansas City Water Services Department.
Premier Golf Missouri runs the golf club in northern Kansas City. Premier's lawyer, Steve Mustoe, said the amount listed in the city's claim wasn't correct.
“We are disappointed that the city filed a lien before meeting with us to determine all of the facts relevant to the source of water used on the course,” he said.
But he said the course would pay any money that it owes. “We regret that the club and the residents are involved in this matter, and we expect to resolve it,” Mustoe said.
Homeowners in the subdivision that includes many homes worth more than $500,000 won't be affected by the lien, said Mark Simpson, co-developer of the residential development.
“There is no financial relationship whatsoever between Staley residential development or the existing 275 Staley Farms homeowners and the Staley Farm Golf Club,” Simpson said.
A lawsuit between the golf course and a residential developer revealed the unmetered line. An attorney for golf course owner Marty Ostronic said in September that his client didn't know anything about it until the lawsuit.
The city calculated water and sewer fees owed by Staley Farms by estimating water flow for eight hours a day through a 4-inch pipe during the summer. The utility says water loss began in May 2003.
Hennessey said the water department is still investigating water lines at the golf course to make sure no other illegal connections exist. He said there had indications of tampering in the area before the utility discovered the unauthorized valve.
“We are improving the system and are going to do more to do leak detection,” he said. “We're going to do a better job.”
Click here to subscribe to e-Water News Weekly!