“Don’t drink the water” is clichéd advice given to tourists traveling to certain foreign countries, where health standards aren’t up to par with those found in the United States. This time though, Texas locals had to heed those wise words as news spread that the “Li’l Roundup” convenience store, located in Crawford, was selling bottled water sourced from – believe it or not – a toilet in the back of the store.
“Technically, it was the toilet tank, not the bowl,” said store proprietor Herb Walker, recently released on bond. “When you say toilet, people automatically think of the toilet bowl, and that’s just gross. The water in the tank is fresh, so I didn’t see a real problem with filling the bottles from there, except I guess I was using Quicky Glue to re-seal the bottles, and that’s kind of toxic.”
Crawford PD officer Harlan Jeffords made the discovery by accident, when driving around town with his six-year-old son Becker. “Beck had to go to the bathroom, you know like kids always do, so we pulled up to the ‘Roundup’ and Beck comes out of there with his pockets stuffed with water bottle caps. I asked him where he got them and he said ‘they’re in the bathroom.’”
Jeffords took a look and found a cardboard box with hundreds of bottle caps. When he asked the store owner what they were doing in the bathroom, the facts came spilling out.
“He looked kind of embarrassed, like a little kid when you catch one doing something bad,” said Jeffords, “but finally we got the truth out of him. There were about two hundred small used water bottles in another box along with the Quicky Glue, and finally we put the pieces together.”
Officer Jeffords initially thought the water was coming from the bathroom sink, but Walker revealed the actual source when describing the operation. “The bottles wouldn’t fit in that tiny sink,” said Walker. “I tried. It was easier to dunk the bottles in the tank, and ‘bubble them up full,’ and then I’d seal the bottles back up. It’s bad enough folks think I’m a crook, now they think I run an unsanitary operation and that I’m some kind of pig.”
Walker faces a stiff fine, and possible jail time on health department violations. A court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 1 at the Crawford County Courthouse.