Decision to sell Charlestown Water is now in hands of Court of Appeals
Charlestown, Ind. (WDRB) -- All over Charlestown, you'll find residents fed up with the brown water. A woman posted pictures Sunday of her bathtub filled with dark brown water. Once drained, the water left sediments in her tub.
Residents are bottling it up, and even with that brown water as proof, some are against the sale of the water company.
"This needs to be resolved. This has become urgent. This is an emergency," said Darlene Williams with No Outsourcing Water (NOW). "People have bad water, and it needs to be fixed."
Some residents said they get brown water once a month, while others said it comes every couple weeks and with no warning. The color in the water comes from Manganese that the city says is safe to drink despite the color.
"The main concern we have is the quality of water flowing through the pipes right now to the residents of Charlestown," Williams said.
Last year, the Charlestown City Council voted to sell its water system to Indiana American Water for $13.4 million. The state approved the deal, which, for most customers on city water, would mean rates will more than double. This will affect 2,900 customer's water bills, and it means most will jump by $26 per month.
"The city has already earmarked million of dollars and they're continuing to buy real estate and raise buildings and bring developments, money we don't have," Williams said. "We're a small town. They're going to get $13 million to do whatever they want with."
But NOW filed an appeal, putting the sale on hold. The city and Indiana American then filed their responses.
Attorney David Agnew who represents NOW, said they're just waiting on the Court of Appeals to decide which way to rule.
"Any appeal will take a few months for the Court of Appeals to rule on," Agnew said. "But when it's technical, it will take a little longer. Less than a year for sure."
Indiana American Water says it promises to invest $7.2 million over the next five years to fix the city's poor water quality.
"Nothing new to report on the court case. Still just waiting on a ruling from the appeals court. We plan to complete a more thorough evaluation of the Charlestown system while operating it after closing on the acquisition," said Joe Loughmiller, external affairs manager of Indiana American.
"From this, we’ll fully develop the optimal solutions for solving the issues they are experiencing," he added. We have committed to investing to address water quality and water age issues and will be evaluating a variety of options. The bulk of those investments will be made within the first couple of years to rapidly address these concerns."
Some resident say they're worried that if a sale goes through, water rates could even double. But they feel like their voice hasn't been heard.
"The voters, under the terms of the statute, are entitled to have a referendum," Agnew said. "We had a petition signed by over 1,000 registered voters in Charlestown opposing the sale. Considering they only have about 3,000 customers in the utility, that's pretty astonishing."
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.