Car wash owner again told to stop tapping water from hydrants - WNEM TV 5

Car wash owner again told to stop tapping water from hydrants

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The owner of a Murfreesboro car wash company who was caught on video stealing water from a fire hydrant is again under suspicion for tapping into a public hydrant this week.

A witness who saw it happen called the fire marshal and the Channel 4 I-Team.

While American Wash Company owner Ed McClain says, yes, he pleaded guilty in the past to stealing water - and that there is video of his company doing it - what happened this week isn't what it seems.

McClain and his son pleaded guilty after being caught on camera stealing from several fire hydrants in Nashville in 2010.

But after this week's incident, he said his company didn't do the crime again.

"I did not steal water," McClain said.

If someone taps into a public hydrant without the city's knowledge it could be damaged, hurt firefighting efforts or even contaminate the water supply.

"I was in shock. I couldn't believe someone would use water hydrant water," said witness Jessica Cheatham.

The Murfreesboro fire marshal's office later learned an American Wash Company employee admitted to using the hydrant Wednesday, so the fire marshal called McClain and said "don't do it again."

"We would prosecute. There are rules that we have to go by," said Fire Marshal Ken Honeycutt.

McClain contends he was told by the car dealership where the hydrant is located that it was a private hydrant. He said he didn't know he was using water for which he wasn't paying.

But Cheatham, whose family runs another car wash company, said she knew something was wrong when she saw the hydrant tap, because her company never plugs into hydrants.

"We have never done that, no," she said.

McClain said he uses a device with a meter and a back flow on it to stop cross-contamination of water, saying he's learned from his mistakes in the past.

"That was just a mistake we made," he said.

The fire marshal's office says, this time, they will not prosecute.

McClain added when he took the water from the hydrant in Nashville in 2010, his company was taking only the rusty water out and filtering it and didn't realize they couldn't do that.

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