Aqua Officials say "Tentative" Agreement Reached with Fort Wayne

By Rachel Martin

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 5:27 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – The tide is high for Aqua Indiana as officials say they've reached a tentative agreement with Fort Wayne City Utilities.

Tuesday night, officials with Aqua Indiana claimed they’ve reached a tentative agreement with the City of Fort Wayne on the takeover process, but wouldn’t elaborate on details. All officials were able to say was it should be resolved in two weeks.

Earlier this winter, Mayor Tom Henry announced he wants to condemn Aqua Indiana and have City Utilities take over the responsibilities.

At the public hearing during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, just under 20 people shared their opinions—most in favor of the condemnation, with only a handful happy with the current service. Among the complaints from customers: water pressure, water softness, and discoloration. But the biggest complaint from Aqua customers was the high water rates.

Aqua Indiana President Tom Bruns says Aqua charges users for a minimum of 4,000 gallons whether they use it or not. He says often families go over the minimum amount, but singles or families of two may not even reach the minimum. Bruns went on to explain that’s a standard for many water companies around the state, and that Aqua’s rates are still less than in Churubusco and Huntington. However, Bruns says the rates are justified.

"We've spent a lot of the money needed to fix our system up. Our rates have now reached a point where they take care of those rehabilitations. Fort Wayne is only beginning to really undertake the new investments needed to keep their systems up,” Bruns said.

Fort Wayne City Utilities Director Kumar Menon claims rates shouldn't go up if they take over Aqua.

"We are confident that we can make this transition happen without anyone who is not in an acquired area paying more. Meaning, those folks who have been part of City Utilities for decades will not see an increase,” said Menon.

Although Menon is confident additional rate hikes won’t be necessary, he says it all depends on the final agreement made with Aqua. Both Bruns and Menon say they'd rather form a partnership than condemn the water service all together.

Officials say they hope to reach a final agreement by the City Council meeting on Feb. 5, that’s when the opportunity for public feedback will close.

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