Water rights in California have always been complex as anyone who has seen Chinatown can attest to. With the state in a four-year drought of historic proportions, water has become an even more precious commodity. Tom Selleck regularly had a tanker truck fill up with water for his 60-acre ranch at a fire hydrant outside of his water district boundaries.
The Calleguas Municipal Water District hired a PI to monitor the illegal diversion of water. The PI discovered that a water-tanker truck bound for Selleck’s ranch in Westlake Village was regularly filling up at a fire hydrant at a construction site in nearby Calleguas.
Although Selleck claimed that he paid for the water, both California and local law prohibit taking water outside of a district’s boundaries. In addition to paying directly for the water, annexation fees and property tax assessments also pay for it.
The water district sued Selleck and his wife on July 6, 2015. The district agreed to accept his offer of more than $21,000 to pay for the cost of the PI who had monitored the diversion of water. The legal settlement will prevent Selleck from taking water from the district to use on his ranch.
The situation remains murky. The water district sent identical cease-and-desist letters in 2013 to the actor’s Hidden Valley address and a second address linked to the property. The water resources manager of the water district provided copies of the shipping invoices to the Los Angeles Times, which indicated that the letters were delivered. However, a spokeswoman for Selleck did not dispute that the water district tried to contact the actor. She claims that no one signed for the letters and that he was unaware of their existence.