Some Mesa Del Caballo Water Complaints Still Outstanding

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The Arizona Corporation Commission continues to investigate five complaints against Brooke Utilities filed by residents of Mesa del Caballo, commission spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder said this week.

However, the commission has settled the bulk of complaints against the private water company, which focused on whether the company had properly assessed a water hauling charge this summer.

A previous Roundup story said that ACC staffers had dismissed all 19 complaints against the water company.

However, Wilder later clarified that all complaints about the water hauling charges imposed this summer had been “resolved,” but that other elements of at least five complaints remain under review.

The still-open complaints include one filed by store owner Steve Gehring, who complained about the water hauling charge, but also about an array of other issues — including fines and cutoffs connected to people using too much water at certain water conservation stages.

In an e-mail response to a request for a clarification, Wilder wrote, “I am unable to discuss the details of the complaints that are still open. They are still open due to matters other than the hauling surcharge, however, so while Mr. Gehring and others do have open complaints, I don’t believe you need to print a correction to your story. The matter of the surcharge has been answered.”

Brooke Utilities last year received permission from the corporation commission to charge customers extra if it needed to haul water to keep its storage tanks full during the summer months when demand routinely overwhelms the ability of the company’s wells in the roughly 400-home subdivision off Houston Mesa Road.

The community spent nearly the entire summer on water restrictions. Surcharges doubled or tripled monthly water bills to cover the cost of hauling the water bought from Payson to a water main near Home Depot out to the subdivision.

Complaints by Gehring and others claimed the company applied the surcharge to virtually all the water it sold in the course of the summer, not just the water it trucked in and dumped into the storage tanks.

The ACC review concluded that the company had correctly applied the water hauling charges. That resolved three-quarters of the complaints. However, five of the complaints had raised additional issues the ACC staff continues to investigate, said Wilder.

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