City And Aqua Negotiating Aboite Water Issues

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 6:18 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry says he's talking with Aqua Indiana about ways to provide better water service to thousands of Aboite Township residents.

But he says a city takeover of Aqua's Aboite territory is not his preferred option.

The two sides don't see eye to eye on everything, but progress is apparently being made on three outstanding issues.

Tom Bruns, Aqua's regional president, tells Indiana’s NewsCenter that discussions center on Aqua possibly purchasing water from the city in peak usage times during the summer.

He says Aqua is offering to reciprocate by treating some of the city's wastewater at Aqua's facility just east of Interstate 69.

Finally, according to Bruns, the two sides are trying to settle a long standing dispute over how much the city paid Aqua in its eminent domain takeover of Aqua's north territory back in 2008.

Aqua is fighting in court to get more than the $16.9 million the city forked over.

Aqua also contends in its lawsuit that the city’s condemnation was not done properly in that case.

Mayor Henry says approximately 2,000 Aboite residents signed petitions, seeking the city's help in getting higher quality, lower cost water.

Mayor Tom Henry/(D) Fort Wayne: " The same thing the other citizens of Fort Wayne have. They are our citizens, we need to continue to talk to Aqua and try to make some type of good, solid effort in moving forward, with giving them the same type of water that our other residents enjoy."

Henry has not shut the door on another eminent domain takeover in the Aboite service area, but he says that’s not a preferable option to pursue.

Henry made better water for Aboite a mayoral campaign issue.

His campaign staff sent out a recent mailer, saying the city is fighting to ensure better water and cheaper prices for Aqua customers in Aboite, and the flyer suggested that Republican opponent Paula Hughes favored the city taking a “hands off” approach to the private utility.

It’s not clear if the sale of city water to Aboite in the summer months is a solution that most Aboite Aqua customers had in mind.

If the negotiations produce any settlements, those agreements won’t be put in force until the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission weighs in with its approval.

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