Commission Halts Water Hookups In Pine

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Residents of Pine and Strawberry will get the chance to voice their opinions about the water problem plaguing their towns, just in time for another peak usage season, which may likely see more of the same shortages as last year.

The Arizona Corporation Commission will host a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the Pine/Strawberry Elementary School Gym to discuss Pine/Strawberry water issues.

The ACC, the government body that has jurisdiction over the quality of service and rates charged by public utilities, has enacted a moratorium on new connections for Brooke Utilities, the California-based water utility company that provides service to Pine and Strawberry. The moratorium is in place due to the water outages over the last two decades and the lack of a feasible solution offered by Brooke Utilities.

In past years, when water would become scarce during the summer peak season, Brooke Utilities hauled truckloads of water to the region, which have allowed the company to avoid complete outages. The water hauling results in increased costs for consumers and is not a permanent solution, said Heather Murphy, public information officer for the ACC.

Murphy said that over the last couple years, there have been sporadic moratoriums on new connections in the Pine/Strawberry area, but the current suspension will be a permanent fixture until the situation is remedied.

"The moratorium remains in effect until a permanent, long-term solution can be found on the water problem," Murphy said.

"Before they add customers, the ACC wants them to solve the problem."

The town hall has been arranged so that representatives from Brooke Utilities might share their ideas about a permanent solution to the intermittent water flow.

"We'd like it not to be adversarial," Murphy said. "We'd like it to be educational. The commission wants (Brooke Utilities) to come up with a solution."

Commissioners from the ACC will be present and members of the community are encouraged to attend to share their comments and concerns with the commissioners.

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