Lawmakers, activists discuss bill to protect Chester Water Authority customers

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – State Reps. Leanne Krueger and John Lawrence were joined by local activists and union representatives at a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol, where they discussed legislation to protect the customers of municipal and authority-owned water or wastewater systems in the acquisition process.

Krueger, D-Delaware, and Lawrence, R-Chester/Lancaster, have introduced legislation (H.B. 1936) to amend Section 1329 of the Public Utilities Law to prohibit the use of that section for the sale of municipal or authority-owned water or wastewater systems to private companies using the valuation procedure outlined there unless the system is in financial and/or operational distress.

Chester Water Authority is a financially stable utility being pursued by Aqua Pennsylvania for acquisition.

“Sales through Section 1329 always drive up rates for customers, so those sales should be limited to distressed systems that truly need assistance,” said Krueger. “Chester Water Authority is not in financial or operational distress. If passed, this bill would prevent Aqua from marking up an offer price to take over CWA and passing those costs on to ratepayers. I will continue fighting to protect CWA customers.”

“Chester Water Authority’s Board unanimously rejected a buyout offer,” said Lawrence. “Thousands of CWA ratepayers have spoken out against a sale of the system. Dozens of municipal leaders have condemned any sale of CWA. Today, we stand united with them.”

The lawmakers were joined Tuesday by Chester Water Authority workers, represented by SEIU, and representatives from Save CWA and NOPE (Neighbors Opposing Privatization Efforts).

“Every day, I lead a crew fixing water lines in all sorts of neighborhoods, under all sorts of conditions,” said Mike Greek, a CWA foreman for 20 years and 32BJ SEIU member. “The Chester Water Authority doesn’t need saving. It’s doing its job and doing it well. But privatization isn’t about improving what’s wrong, it’s about making the most money possible out of a good thing.”

House Bill 1936 has been referred to the House Consumer Affairs Committee.