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Sterling Family Fighting to Keep Water Well

STERLING Okla_ A private water well that's been operating for nearly 50 years in the town of Sterling may soon be shut down by the city, and the owners aren't too happy about it.

Jim and Chelly Vanwinkle were informed Wednesday that they needed to come to the next town hall meeting to talk about the well. The city said they're violating an ordinance requiring all residents to use city water.

According to the ordinance issued by the town of Sterling, the Vanwinkles will have to pay for not only the shutdown of their well, but for the home's new connections to the city water line. That's just one reason why the switch is unacceptable to Jim and Chelly. They say they're willing to do whatever it takes to keep their well.

"Everybody that I have told about this since we got this paperwork has said 'They can't do that!'" Chelly said.

The well was in place and fully functioning when the family bought the house in 1964. In 1981, the Town of Sterling outlawed any water supply that didn't come from straight from the city. The city didn't order the Vanwinkles to shut the well down then.

"I don't know why it's come to a head now," Chelly said. "I have absolutely no indication why it's come to a head now."

Jim and Chelly say paying for water they don't want is just the tip of the iceberg. It's also the quality of their water and its convenience for generations that they're not willing to part with.

"You can water your yard whenever you want to, you don't have any restrictions," they said. "It doesn't matter how much water you use, it's still the same price, however much electricity it takes to pump it out which is not that much. It's the sweetest-tasting water that I've ever tasted in my life anywhere in this country."

They say keeping their water is only fair after feeling pushed around.

"There's no reason to cap a functioning well," Chelly said. "It's not contaminated, it's not hurting anybody, and it functions properly. It's stupid. It's absolutely stupid. I don't understand it. I don't understand why they're picking on us, and that's how I feel. They're picking on us."

7News contacted Sterling City Hall to see why the ordinance is now potentially being enforced on the Vanwinkles and what costs they could be looking at. They said they couldn't comment on the situation, but they did confirm they've asked the family to attend the board meeting for initial discussions. That meeting is scheduled for November 12th at Sterling City Hall. We'll have the latest update on the board's decision for you then.



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