Half of the people accused of stealing water from the Modesto Irrigation District have negotiated settlements with the district, effectively canceling all penalties.
Fines of $1,500, imposed in August, were lifted from Empire neighbors Chester and Carole Hammonds and David and Sarah Switzer. Their water rights were reinstated in time to receive a water delivery Saturday, the last of this season, and their names were removed from a MID Web page shaming those accused of water banditry, according to rules adopted in February as the drought worsened.
They joined neighbors Casey and Diane Johnson, whose exoneration was featured last week in The Modesto Bee.
The three couples admitted watering with pipes apart from their regular service valves, but said they thought the pipes were legal and contended that the district has been aware of them for years. They said they were not given a chance to defend themselves before the district publicly humiliated them.
Three other customers remain on the district’s “water theft summary” list, and a board member has said two additional investigations are underway.