Commission approves smaller surcharge for Eagle Water
Boise – The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is authorizing Eagle Water Co. to collect a one-year 42.5 percent surcharge on water use above 600 cubic-foot per month to recover expenses the company incurred to make immediate repairs to its system. The increase is effective immediately.
The surcharge will collect up to $160,389, but the commission is withholding final judgment on $40,000 of that total to further examine whether customers should be charged for a water line that had to be replaced due to a construction mishap. If that $40,000 is withheld from recovery, the duration of the one-year surcharge will be shortened.
Eagle Water Company, a private company that is not the same as the City of Eagle’s municipal water service, sought a three-year 40.85 percent surcharge, which would have collected $517,477 to allow the company to drill a new well as well as pay the cost of the recent repairs and an engineering study. But the commission denied that large of a recovery, saying an engineering report should be completed before authorizing cost recovery of major infrastructure projects. The surcharge that the commission will allow pays for immediate improvements and the engineering study.
To the average customer, the surcharge will mean an increase of $3 during non-irrigation months and about $10 during irrigation months. The surcharge applies only to use more than 600 cubic-feet per month, which, at about 4,500 gallons, will meet the monthly needs of many customers during non-irrigation months.
In 2004, a 12-inch mainline serving a booster pump was undermined. Eagle Water asserts that the operator of a gravel pit had exposed the line while digging into a bank. Eagle Water also alleges the gravel company gave Eagle Water less than 24-hours notice before digging in the vicinity of the mainline. To prevent loss of service, Eagle Water shut off the line and re-routed it, replacing it with an 8-inch line. After customers complained of poor water pressure last summer, the commission issued an Aug. 3 order directing the company to immediately correct the problem by replacing the 8-inch line with a 12-inch line at a cost of about $40,000.
Before deciding whether Eagle Water should be able to collect the $40,000 from customers, the commission is ordering the company to file more information, specifically, 1) the reasonableness of using a temporary easement for a mainline; 2) whether the easement agreement provided for adequate notification regarding gravel operations that might affect the mainline, 3) the basis for $2,511 in legal costs and 4) whether Eagle Water has adequately explored seeking recovery from damages to the mainline from other parties.
In addition to the commission’s order directing Eagle Water to correct the low-water pressure problem, the company also received a Notice of Violation from the state Department of Environmental Quality for failing to maintain water pressure to about 50 customers in the subdivision. The company serves more than 2,500 customers in and around the City of Eagle.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Water Cases” and scroll down to Case Number EAG-W-05-02.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than Nov. 17. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. Petitions should include a statement of the nature and quantity of evidence the petitioner will offer if reconsideration is granted.
Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID, 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762.