FORT WAYNE – The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission gave Aqua Indiana permission to detach itself from Fort Waynes water utility system.
The commission sent the private water utility a letter Wednesday saying the emergency connection to the citys water system was no longer necessary since the company has addressed problems with its water pressure caused in part by the summers drought.
An independent audit of the companys water system ordered after the connection recommended disconnecting the two utilities now that the drought has passed and water usage by Aqua Indiana customers has gone down, according to a letter from the commission.
The audit is being conducted in two phases, and the investigator continues to look into the companys long-term plan and the roles of the utility and city, according to the letter.
Aqua Indiana serves 12,000 customers in Allen County and a small portion of Whitley County. During the height of the drought, a number of consumers – including state Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne – complained about the utilitys water pressure.
At the height of the drought in July, the company was pumping 5 million gallons of water to its customers and connected 1,200 of its customers to City Utilities.
In its letter announcing the end of the connection, the regulatory commission said incompatibility between the two systems disinfectants prevented the water supplies from being mixed.
That prevented Aqua Indiana from supplementing the citys water in the case of an emergency, such as a fire, which caused a potential fire protection problem, according to the letter.
According to Aqua Indiana, state law requires 48 hours notice to homeowners before the source of their water supply is changed. The utilities will work together to determine the best date for the switch-back and will inform affected customers in advance.
In August, Aqua Indiana asked for permission to disconnect from the citys water supply as usage dropped, according to the commissions letter.
Aqua Indiana officials said in a written statement they are confident their wells and distribution system can meet the demands for water supply and maintain water pressure for all of its customers in Aboite Township.
In August, Aqua Indiana announced the completion of an 11th well in the area to provide up to 500,000 gallons a day to the Chestnut Hills treatment plant.
At the time of the connection, city officials expressed a desire to see the connection between the utilities continue permanently, but on Wednesday expressed support for the commissions decision.
We are pleased that the IURC asked for an audit of Aqua Indianas supply, pressure and service, Kumar Menon, director of City Utilities, said in a statement.
We entered the agreement to serve some 1,300 Aqua customers until there was relief from this summers drought. We surveyed those customers that received our water during this period and an overwhelming majority (95 percent) of them rated our water as good to excellent.
As a regional water provider, City Utilities is ready to supply the customers of Aqua and will do so as and when requested by the IURC during peak periods of usage, as indicated in the IURC document, Menon said in the statement.
(Fort Wayne) Mayor (Tom) Henry is committed to providing a reliable and safe supply of water for drinking and for fire protection to all Fort Wayne residents and we remain concerned about Aquas water pressure, quality, cost and service levels.