A Spirit Lake man has lost a court appeal challenging a city fine he received for connecting his neighbor to his city water service via a hose, after the neighbor had been cut off for non-payment. Michael Freitas charged that the city couldn’t constitutionally bar him from making a charitable gift of the water to his neighbor by running a hose across the alley. But the Idaho Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, upheld an earlier Kootenai County jury verdict that left Freitas with a $500 fine.
Idaho law clearly grants cities authority to provide and regulate domestic water service, the court found. And the appellate judges weren’t swayed by Freitas’ argument that he’d already paid for the water because it went through his water meter. “Although the water provided to the third party is still being paid for, the water previously provided to the third party for which that third party had not paid remains unpaid and the incentive to pay that debt is reduced,” Court of Appeals Judge John Melanson wrote for a unanimous court. “This threatens the city’s ability to provide low-cost water services.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.