A large number of Pine and Strawberry residents apparently want the state to put the Pine and Strawberry Water Companies out of business. Both companies are owned and operated by Brooke Utilities.
Commissioners Kristin Mayes and Gary Pierce of the Arizona Corpora-tion Commission heard public comment from Pine and Strawberry residents this week on a request by Pine Water Company to encumber property and equipment. The request was made as part of a proposal between the utility company and the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District to drill a deep well in Strawberry in an effort to find sufficient water to supplement the supply for Pine residents.
Tamara Logsdon, owner of Rimside Grill, told the commissioners of her most recent outage.
"I was without water for a morning during Thanksgiving weekend. My business was hurt. My employees were hurt."
She then spoke on behalf of the Rim Country Water group, a grassroots organization that, according to its mission statement, wants "to develop, and educate the citizens of Pine-Strawberry on benefits of a community owned water system, which will provide a safe, sustainable water supply with modern infrastructure at the most economical cost."
Logsdon said the most fundamental issues to actually start work on the proposed deep well (K2 site) have not been resolved: the completion of a land survey and securing easements to access the site.
"Rim Country Water wants the citizens izens of Pine and Strawberry to form our own water district. We will be presenting all the information on this at our meeting in January. However, we know water can be obtained faster and cheaper. Our money can be kept local and decisions will be made at the local level. The K2 agreement (between Pine Water and the PSWID) is faulty and a financial risk.
"We ask the commission to deny the request for encumbrances, deny the use of taxpayer money. Revoke the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity of Brooke Utilities for both the Pine Water Company and the Strawberry Water Company."
Logsdon's request for the revocation of the CC&Ns was repeated by a number of residents.
While most residents spoke against the water company, not all public comment was in opposition to the request. Martin Winandy supports the proposal and said the only reason there is opposition is the fact that if K2 is successful, it will increase the value of the utility company, making a buyout more expensive.
"To have a successful recall (of the PSWID board) the majority of Pine residents need to be angry at Brooke Utilities and that is why Rim Country Water is asking the commission to block the K2 Well. There is no guarantee of success with the well, but it has a good chance. Why is there so much effort to knock down a loser? K2 would solve Pine water problems," Winandy said.
The commissioners thanked the residents for attending the hearing and assured them everything said would become part of the official record on the matter. They did not make any other comment, except when Mayes corrected the misconception that ACC staff rules on any matter.
There were about 150 residents in attendance and approximately 20 of them spoke.
The commission's hearing on the encumbrance request will continue on Dec. 12, Mayes said.
The state's hearing on the request by a number of Pine residents to be removed from the service area of Pine Water Company will be continued in January.