Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Fasano's had enough of Aloha's delays
A water treatment system's potential for pollution is the final straw, the senator says.
By JODIE TILLMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 21, 2007
A new delay in Aloha Utilities' plan to improve drinking water has prompted state Sen. Mike Fasano once again to ask state regulators to consider stripping the company of its turf.
The latest delay - the discovery that the proposed water treatment system could pollute the environment - means the project is at least a year behind schedule, said Fasano, a frequent Aloha critic who wants Pasco County to take over the company's franchise.
"It would be unfair to the customers to wait any longer, nor will it serve any purpose to continue extending legal proceedings that appear to be heading nowhere," Fasano wrote in the letter he sent Tuesday to the Florida Public Service Commission.
An April 2006 settlement agreement between Aloha and water customers in the Seven Springs area called for the company to build a treatment system to help fix the discolored and smelly water that sometimes comes from residents' taps. That settlement came after a decade-old fight between the company and customers.
But the design and construction of the so-called "anion exchange" system has been beset by delays. The latest problem? According to Fasano, an Aloha hydrologist is now worried that the design proposed by a consultant would result in excessive levels of brine in the reuse water system, potentially hurting the environment.
Aloha can't apply for a state environmental permit until it resolves that issue. Fasano, in his letter, said the utility should have been prepared for these problems.
"It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that Aloha continues to make poor business choices or just does not have the drive to fulfill the agreement," he wrote.
A spokeswoman for Aloha Utilities said president Steve Watford was out of the office for the Thanksgiving holiday and could not be reached for comment.
Todd Brown, a spokesman for the commission, said Tuesday that staff members are awaiting more information from Aloha about the potential problems before the PSC makes any decisions. Officials acknowledge the delays, he said, but don't agree that all of them are Aloha's fault.
If the commission determines that Aloha is breaching the settlement agreement, then there is a range of options, from fining the company to taking away some of its service areas.
"I think it's still a little early to tell," Brown said.