Why do municipalities sell their water and wastewater systems to Aqua?
The Association of Civil Engineers estimates that over $12 billion will be needed to replace aging water infrastructure and over $14 billion will be needed to improve wastewater in the next 20 years in Ohio. For the more than 85 percent of Ohio’s community water systems that are operated by municipalities, one viable option is to sell the systems to regulated utilities like Aqua Ohio for the guarantee that the system’s water infrastructure will receive the capital investment and maintenance that it needs — without draining municipal resources from other vital services.
Why should Youngstown consider selling its water assets to Aqua?
Aqua has watched the challenges being faced by the city, and the diligent efforts by elected officials to address municipal priorities. We believe this letter of interest provides both the current and incoming administrations with an additional solution to consider in their efforts.
Did the city approach Aqua about buying the system?
No. Aqua submitted its letter of interest after careful thought and evaluation of the community’s water distribution needs. The letter is intended to begin a dialogue with the city. Over the past several decades, Aqua has successfully partnered with hundreds of communities to resolve unique problems with aging water systems, providing essential infrastructure to support economic development and revitalization. We believe that Aqua is the best partner for Youngstown and we look forward to discussing our proposal with City Council further as they continue to consider their options.
How much is Aqua offering to buy the system for?
While nothing is final and a thorough due diligence process will need to be conducted in conjunction with city leadership, Aqua’s initial offer is $50 million for the city’s water distribution assets.
Would Aqua increase rates for customers?
It is premature to provide comment on the specifics of the offer or the resulting agreement, which would include rate information, before the city leadership has had the opportunity to meet and discuss our proposal. Rates would be set either through negotiations with local officials or by the PUCO after considering public input and confirming a request is just and reasonable. Rates are also affected by purchase price, which we would discuss with decision-makers to come to the best arrangement.
Would there be layoffs of city employees if Aqua buys the system?
Aqua collaborates with municipalities to ensure that water employees have options to either maintain their employment and benefits and any collective bargaining agreement, or transition to Aqua. In concurrence with the city, Aqua is committed to offer employment to every Youngstown City employee who works directly on the water utility assets, subject to a drug screening and background checks.
What are the next steps now that Aqua has submitted this letter of interest?
This letter of interest is an effort to start a dialogue that will continue well into 2018, if the City of Youngstown wishes to engage. We would work together with city officials to customize a partnership that benefits both of us, with Aqua providing the expertise to improve the water system and operate more efficiently, as we have in hundreds of municipalities over the past several decades. If Youngstown officials and its residents decide to sell the water system to Aqua, our scale allows us to leverage our existing resources to ensure the process is as efficient and smooth as possible as we welcome all new customers into the Aqua family.