PSC chair Lane urges agreement be reached in connection with failing water service

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Public Service Chairwoman Charlotte Lane made it clear Tuesday she wants a Fayette County public service district and West Virginia American Water Company to reach an agreement soon.

Charlotte Lane

“It’s clear that the situation down there is totally unacceptable and the people in this room have the ability to do something about it and this is just being drug out and drug out and it’s totally unacceptable,” Lane said.

She oversaw a status hearing Tuesday on the PSC’s general investigation into the Paige-Kincaid Public Service District which provides water and sewer service to several hundred residents in Fayette County not far from Fayetteville.

The system’s problems date back several years. Paige-Kincaid customers have signed petitions and submitted comments expressing concern about both the service and the quality of the water produced by the local system.

The Paige-Kincaid PSD board began talks with West Virginia American Water Company last fall about possibly purchasing the system but discussions have stalled over whether the PSD’s sewer system should be included.

“They (the Paige-Kincaid board) did indicate that they insist that the sewer system be taken over also by American Water if we could complete a global agreement. That’s what they would insist upon,” Paige-Kincaid PSD attorney Phil Tissue told the PSC Tuesday.

But WVAWC attorney Chris Callas said the company wants to buy the water system not the sewer operation.

“We did not then and do not now expect that we will propose any kind of acquisition of all of the district’s facilities–water and sewer,” Callas said Tuesday. “We do not have that on the table nor do we expect that to be something that we will be making in the way of a proposal.”

In her closing remarks, Lane urged the two to come to some kind of agreement.

“I would advise the board to seriously consider the offers that have been made. I would seriously consider that West Virginia American Water do its due diligence on the sewer system,” Lane said.

She also reminded those at the hearing that new state laws give the state PSC more power to force failing water system to sell their assets to better functioning systems along with legislation that helps West Virginia American Water complete transactions.

“The tools are on the books to deal with this situation and I think in the next several months we need to get something done,” Lane said.

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