Today's Letters: Last thing Aloha needs is defense

Published May 22, 2007

Re: County is not the right answer to Aloha issues May 20 editorial

Over the years the St. Petersburg Times has done an excellent job reporting and editorializing about the horrendous business practices of Aloha Utilities. The plight of the customers who must endure the foul water and terrible service provided by this monopoly, as well as their efforts to break free from Aloha's grip, has been well-documented. In a startling turnabout, this paper's recent opinion piece, which amounted to not much more than a defense of Aloha, was a slap in the face of every person who relies upon Aloha for the most basic human need of clean water.

The customers of Aloha entered into a settlement agreement with the cautious optimism that Aloha would finally clean up its act, something it should have done years ago. Nearly one year after signing that agreement, Aloha's rich history of delaying and foot-dragging continues unabated. It is easy for someone who is not a customer of Aloha to editorialize in support of the utility. It is quite another to be a customer who must turn on the tap daily and wonder if the water that comes out will be clear and usable.

I would not be asking the Pasco County Legislative Delegation to meet to consider a local bill transferring Aloha's water franchise to the county if Aloha were on target with its timetable to implement its promised water treatment system. As reported in this paper, Aloha's recent threat to delay even further its responsibility under the settlement agreement merely because I am proposing legislation should raise red flags all over the place.

This newspaper should see Aloha for what it is worth and take it to task for lagging so far behind in its legal commitment to its customers. In the event that the past 13 years of my office's involvement with this terrible company has been forgotten, I challenge the editorialist to review the archives of its own paper and reread the comments made by the customers who have complained and testified about Aloha. Perhaps after doing so the writer will realize that it is those very same customers who need defense, not Aloha.

Sen. Mike Fasano, District 11, New Port Richey


Aloha customers need county's help

Aloha Utilities has deceived their customers for the past 14 years.

Two years ago, a committee sponsored by Pasco County determined removal of the hydrogen sulfide is required for acceptable drinking water. Instead of going to work to correct their deficiencies, Aloha scurried off to the "utility friendly" PSC in Tallahassee to prevent the county from enacting a local requirement for improved water. A settlement was developed between the PSC and Aloha to implement an Anion Exchange Process over the course of two years and stop all litigation.

Today, however, customers are still on hold; the PSC shows minimal interest and has not enforced compliance with the time line for implementation in the settlement. In the April quarterly update, Page 7, posted on the PSC Web site, Aloha states, "It is impossible to determine how long it will take." Then on May 4, Aloha posted on its own Web site, "The next step in implementation can be taken once we determine the amount and timing of water we will receive from Pasco."

To this point, Aloha has not displayed good business decisions to meet the requirements of the settlement and without help from an effective governmental agency; I no longer feel customers will ever see the good-quality water we were promised by the PSC and Aloha.

The PSC in Tallahassee is 200 miles away. We need Pasco County water utility regulation, with teeth, to give Aloha customers the protection and voice we need.

Wayne Forehand, Trinity


Fasano's plan for Aloha is good idea

This is probably the most uninformed editorial I have read. As an Aloha customer for the last 11 years, I would support Sen. Mike Fasano's proposal to have the county take over Aloha Utilities' territory. Aloha has done nothing in 11 years to bring its service to a level that any customer would expect from a regulated utility. Customer satisfaction is not a word in Aloha's vocabulary. The only thing Aloha has done is make excuses, ask for rate increases and state it's the customers' problem.

When you say Sen. Fasano's plan would take a private utility from under state jurisdiction, that would be one of the best things that could happen to benefit Aloha customers. For 11 years we, the customers, have been after the state agencies to regulate this unscrupulous utility. Between lawyers and lobbyist, the state has bowed to the wishes of the utility.

For years now customers have been replacing plumbing in their homes due to leaks caused by the water Aloha provides. You can't drink the water from the tap. You clean the sink or tub before you can use them after you run Aloha water from the tap.

And you ask would the customer be glad to see Aloha removed from the scene? I think the answer is very apparent. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to come up with the answer. You only have to be an Aloha customer.

We must commend Sen. Fasano for his efforts to get the Aloha mess straightened out.

Edward Wood, New Port Richey


'The Music Man' is a delight for all

After attending the May 18 performance of The Music Man at the Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey, I would like to recommend that people of all ages rush to buy tickets. It was such a delightful musical!

Congratulations and bravo to Charlie and Marie Skelton, who produced and directed such a fine production. Everyone in the cast was outstanding, from the youngest to the oldest.

How fortunate we are in Pasco County to have such talented people and a historical theater! I can't wait to see this wonderful play again before it closes on May 27.

Donna True, Port Richey