BLACK TAP WATER: ALOHA UTILITIES AND THE PSC. Mark Antokas

04/09/04

INTRO: Pasco County is one of the “One hundred fastest growing communities� in the U.S. But the water which flows out of the faucets of some West Pasco communities is black, corrodes copper pipes and smells like rotten eggs. Fifteen hundred home owners petitioned the Florida Public Service Commission to remove Aloha Utilities from the Trinity/Seven Springs area and give the service to Pasco Utilities, who provides it’s customers clean, clear water. Mark Antokas has the story.

SCRIPT:In thursday’s hearing at the West Pasco Government Center, the PSC listened as customers of Aloha Utilities spoke vehemently of instances of corroded pipes (to re-plumb a typical home in plastric costs in the neighborhood of six thousand dollars), black water, and rotten egg smells. Aloha’s customers accused the utility of providing an inferior product, and putting corporate profit ahead of customer health and satisfaction. Instead of solving the problem, most said, the utility has spent millions on legal fees and has just hired a public relations firm to handle it’s image.

Senator Mike Fasano, republican, New Port Richey: Roll Tape:

Heather Fiorentino, state representative, New Port Richey was there and had this to say. Roll Tape:

John Gall, a Trinity resident, a Chemist and a college level teacher in Chemistry explained. Roll Tape:

Thomas Simpson demanded the PSC “sever� him from Aloha. Roll Tape:

One man in the audience explained about hydrogen peroxide and how it reacts to the copper in home plumbing. It turns the water black and produces a foul odor. Roll Tape:

Aloha president Stephen G. Watford said that the utility was not given an opportunity to respond, objected to the “mis-information� spread by the petitioners as he hunkered down amidst his lawyers and consultants on his side of the aisle. He defended professor Audrey Levine’s proposals to improve Aloha’s water. Aloha would make the improvements to the quality, but would charge the costs to their customers, about four million dollars, or a fourty-four percent rate increase. Stephen G Watford, President of Aloha. Roll Tape:

Professor Levine was not at the hearing and was not available to WMNF to comment. PSC senior commissioner Terry Deason. Roll Tape:

Closing: The PSC on Thursday did not make any rulings, and the customers of Aloha utilities will just have to buy bottled drinking water and bathe for a little longer in foul water. One estimate to buy bottled water for a family of four was eleven hundred dollars per year. This is Mark Antokas for WMNF radio news.

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