Pine Water, Strawberry Hollow Make Deal


An agreement has been reached between Pine Water Company and Strawberry Hollow Water Improvement District to end all litigation between the two parties.

The 18-point agreement stipulates that the Strawberry Hollow district will pay Pine Water $6,914 for that portion of the certificate of convenience and necessity (CC&N) issued to Pine Water by the Arizona Corporation Commission that is contained within the boundaries of the Strawberry Hollow district.

The agreement brings to an end four different legal actions between involved parties.

"You're supposed to post a bond for the potential value of the CC&N," Strawberry Hollow district chairman Loren Peterson said. "We hired an economist who came up with the value of $6,914.

"We forwarded (Pine Water) this value and said, ‘This is what we're going to be taking to the court for the valuation,' and they decided to accept it."

The Strawberry Hollow district was formed when Pine Water was unable to provide water connections because it was under a new connection moratorium imposed by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Gila County then authorized the formation of the Strawberry Hollow district.

When the Strawberry Hollow district initiated legal action to condemn the CC&N within its boundaries in 2001, Pine Water countered by suing Gila County for illegally forming the Strawberry Hollow district.

"That suit was dismissed and (Pine Water) appealed and that was going on while we filed our condemnation," Peterson said.

A moratorium on new connections by Strawberry Hollow district, recently imposed by a judge involved in the legal proceedings, was rescinded as part of the settlement between the two parties.

Peterson expressed relief that the legal wrangling is finally over, adding, "Water should be regulated in a competent manner. Gila County understands the water needs for Pine and Strawberry."

Brooke Utilities, parent company of Pine Water Company, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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