Aqua Ohio, MVSD in territorial dispute

BOARDMAN -- Aqua Ohio Inc., a private water supplier, is attempting to block the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District from intervening in the private company's effort to expand its territory.
Boardman-based Aqua Ohio has asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to allow it to expand water service into Southington and Farmington townships and parts of Hubbard and Brookfield townships.
The MVSD, a public entity that provides bulk treated water to Youngstown, Niles and McDonald for resale, is trying to stop Aqua Ohio's expansion.
In a Friday filing of a memorandum with the PUCO, Aqua Ohio contends that the MVSD has tacitly acknowledged it does not have a sufficient legal interest to intervene.
The MVSD has contended that Aqua Ohio has higher water rates than do public suppliers and that the MVSD can expand because it is using only half of its maximum treatment capacity.
Tom Holloway, MVSD chief engineer, reiterated Monday that Aqua Ohio has asked the PUCO to waive 18 items of information that Aqua Ohio should disclose.
For example, the MVSD contends that Aqua Ohio wants to waive public hearings on its proposed expansion and not disclose whether it has financial capabilities to do the expansion.
"This is public information," Holloway said. "It should be open to the public. What are they trying to hide?" Holloway asserted.
"While MVSD may assert it will be negatively affected if the commission approves Aqua Ohio's application, the fact is that MVSD, which is essentially only a water plant, will not be affected by the approval of Aqua Ohio's application," the memorandum says.
Therefore, Aqua asserts, the MVSD does not have a "real and substantial interest" to intervene.
"The simple truth is that MVSD does not extend waterlines to serve retail customers. MVSD is not currently providing water service to any of the territory" in which Aqua Ohio wants to expand, the private firm asserted.
Aqua Ohio says the only reason that MVSD is involved is to stop it from competing against the district.
Aqua Ohio also says there is nothing under Ohio law that gives the MVSD exclusive service territory or permits the district to exclude other utility providers from providing water service to the townships.
Holloway opposes the privatization of water service, adding that water service can be provided through the Trumbull County sanitary engineer's office.

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