It’s been fourteen years since Port Colborne announced that the city has been losing over a half a million dollars a year in water that just kinda disappeared. Apparently it is still going on, albeit a lot less. Only recently have city officials been successful in locating and repairing the undetected leaks.
Way back then I covered the case of the missing water, not as a reporter but as Sargent Joe Friday of Dragnet, TV’s first great cop show.
Announcer: “The story you’re about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” (Music: Dum-de-dum-dum.)
Friday: “You’re an overworked detective working robbery and you think you’ve seen it all. That is, until the City of Port Colborne discovers $630,000 worth of clean drinking water has gone missing every year for the past decade. You’re a cop. Your job? Find the damn water. (Dum-de-dum-dum.)”
“It was hot for October and we were working the day watch out of Lidsville when we got the call about the Port’s missing water. Last week a 200 lb. concrete statue of a deer disappeared. Then a valuable coin collection. Finally the mayor’s assortment of blue suede shoes . . . now water. This town loses more weird stuff than the absentminded caretaker at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. (Dum-de-dum-dum.)”
“It was two in the afternoon by the time my partner, Frank Smith and I reached the mayor’s office at city hall. The mayor and his director of operations were sitting with their feet up on a desk watching a documentary on Niagara Falls.”
“Sorry,” said the mayor, turning off the TV, “but we’re kinda envious.”
“How much water is missing?”
“Thirty percent every year,” said the mayor. “A couple million dollars so far.”
“We’ve looked everywhere—the lake, the canal, the weir. Oh there’s water there alright, but it’s not ours.”
“Water, water everywhere,” said Frank, “but nary a drop to drink.”
“Frank, just shut up. Okay? Now Mr. Mayor, what other steps have you taken to locate the missing water?”
“Well, we put a picture of water on all the local milk cartons. We even consulted a psychic.”
“She said I was probably good for one more term but after that I better find a real job.”
“Water seeks its own level,” said Frank. “Go slow, think low and then you’ll know.”
“Frank, I won’t tell you again. Shut the hell up! Mr. Mayor, do you have any enemies? Maybe another mayor who’s jealous of the unique way you’ve developed that prime property across from West Street with piles of gypsum, sand and gravel and tarps held down by rubber tires?”
“What about a big guy with tattoos,” said Frank, “with a really big truck who’s smuggling water into the Mojave Desert and . . . .”
“Frank. I’ve got a gun. I’ll use it if I have to.”
“One last question, Mr. Mayor, why are you two wearing snorkeling equipment?”
“Well what if the water comes back, you know, like all at once? (Dum-de-dum-dum.)”
“When we interviewed a few locals about the missing water, a hefty guy who washes windows downtown said: “Search me!” So we did. Mostly candy bars, a can of mace and strangely enough, a pair of blue suede shoes.”
“One guy said it was Dunnville stealing Port’s water. ‘Those people got nothin’ better to do.’ A feisty woman selling used lottery tickets in front of Walter’s Restaurant — which is owned by a guy named Paul and run by a guy named Nick — blamed Welland. ‘Those people will steal anything,’ she said. ‘They stole Bob Izumi’s boat you know.’”
“The guy at the liquor store was convinced Wainfleet was stealing Port Colborne’s water. ‘Figure it out. They don’t have water and we do,’ he said. That guy who runs Sunshine Water & Trucking looks suspicious to me.”
“We checked him out.”
“Been a really humid summer. Maybe it evaporated,” he said.
“Nothing,” said Frank, “worth several million dollars evaporates unless the Liberal Party of Canada is involved.”
“I fired a warning shot over Frank’s head, accidentally putting a hole in the Sunshine truck. When we left, the truck’s owner, Greg, was sitting on the back bumper with his finger plugging the hole.”
“My partner Frank suggested it might be attributed to global warming which was causing deep, dry ruts to form in the earth’s natural infrastructure thus leeching off Port Colborne’s water supply into the underground aquifer. I shot him in the leg. I hate it when he uses big words.”
“It was after three o’clock when I dropped Frank off at Emergency and returned to the station with chicken-in-the-basket from the Belmont Hotel. When I opened the box the chicken jumped out. But the fries and the coleslaw were quite good. I went to the tap in the back of the station for a glass of water and… only air came out.”
I burned the case file and drove to Welland believing I had a better chance of finding Bob Izumi’s boat.
For a comment or a signed copy of The Dog Rules – Damn Near Everything email: email@example.com