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Aqua Indiana defends performance at state hearing

INDIANAPOLIS -- Aqua Indiana officials on Friday defended their response to water-pressure problems exacerbated by drought conditions, and told state utility regulators they should have a new well in operation within 30 days.

The company has received emergency approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to convert a test well into a permanent water source for the utility.

The cost is about $125,000 and will be borne by ratepayers. It could be in operation within 30 days.

President Tom Bruns also said the situation has stabilized since connecting more than 1,200 Aqua customers to Fort Wayne's water system.

"I believe our approach is appropriate," he said. "We think we've done a good job meeting customer demands, except for one day."

Two additional interconnections to the city of Fort Wayne are being examined in case weather conditions don't improve.

Jim Atterholt, chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, asked Bruns whether the shareholders of the private utility would be willing to pay for an independent, third-party expert to review the problems and solutions at work.

"I can't say we would," Bruns said.

Atterholt said a neutral analysis could restore public confidence in the system and Bruns agreed to take the matter back to his shareholders.

For more on this story, see Saturday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Saturday.

nkelly@jg.net

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