FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Following are questions we’ve heard in the community about the city’s condemnation case and Mountain Water’s pending sale, along with the answers we can provide at this time. As the condemnation case moves forward, we will periodically revisit some of these questions to provide greater clarity.

 

We’ve segmented the questions into categories. Click the category you’re interested in to see corresponding questions and answers. Have a question that’s not answered here? Please ask us by emailing faqs@mtnwater.com. We’ll do our best to answer. Thank you.

Page last modified: February 10, 2016

Condemnation

What is condemnation?

Condemnation is a process whereby a government entity attempts to take private property or assets from an unwilling seller — either an individual or a company — for a public purpose. In the case of Mountain Water, the government must prove that city ownership of the water system is more necessary than continued ownership by Mountain Water. A judge in trial decides that issue; that decision along with other rulings can be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

A separate legal process exists to determine how much the government must pay for the condemned assets (Mountain Water’s property, in this case). The court empanels three special commissioners to assess the value of the various assets in the case. That determination, too, can be appealed — first to a jury trial, then to the Montana Supreme Court.

As part of this complex legal process, the government may be responsible for additional costs such as interest on asset valuation and the payment of defendant attorney fees and expenses. Even if the city proceeds to take the water system, it will have to pay legal expenses for both sides. In this case, legal expenses are already well over $10 million. To put that in perspective, that’s more than what it would cost to fully fund the annual campaign of United Way of Missoula County and build the new Poverello Center — combined.

It’s important to note that condemnation does not guarantee a low price for condemned property. Valuation often returns a price much higher than the government entity cares to or has the capacity to pay. In our case the city publicly stated it sought to take Mountain Water’s assets for $50 million, after previously offering $65 million. In late 2015, the panel of water commissioners determined a value of $88.6 million, not including interest, attorney fees and other damages and costs. This is in keeping with the many examples of other misguided condemnations of water systems where the fair market values were two to four times more than the governments contended. See, for example, this recent story.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What is the status and timeline for the condemnation case?

History shows that complex condemnation proceedings can stretch out over years. That was true in the city’s first attempt to condemn Mountain Water in the 1980s and is certainly true of this case, which the city initiated in May 2014. Yes, this is the second attempt at condemnation.

The first phase to determine whether the city can take the system (the “necessity” question) went to court in March 2015. A Missoula District Court found in favor of the city of Missoula after a two-week trial. That ruling was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which is now in the process of collecting and reviewing the evidence. On April 22, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a special, public session at the Dennison Theater in Missoula.

If past timelines are any indication, the Supreme Court’s decision on necessity will most likely take a few months after all evidence and testimony is collected. The Supreme Court may choose to remand issues to the District Court for additional hearings and rulings. Any resulting rulings can again be appealed by either side.

While the necessity appeal works its way toward resolution, the separate valuation phase continues to play out. Three commissioners were asked to decide the fair market value of all the assets that make up the water system, including valuable water rights, owned by Mountain Water. In November 2015 they determined a value of $88.6 million, not including interest, attorney fees or other damages and costs. The valuation process is still in District Court. Any party may appeal the decision from that process to the Supreme Court and that appeal would be expected to run the same amount of time as the necessity appeal has.

Needless to say, each of these phases will add significant time and legal expense to the case, no matter the final outcome. Mountain Water did not start this legal battle, but both we and Liberty Utilities fully intend to see the process through and protect our constitutionally guaranteed rights as private property owners through all avenues for appeal.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Why is the city of Missoula trying to condemn Mountain Water Company?

We don’t know. Our company has a decades-long history as a dependable provider of quality water service to our community. The city hasn’t promised lower water rates or better service for our customers. They haven’t promised better jobs or better compensation for our employees. In fact they’ve said that certain employees may lose their jobs under city ownership. And one of the city’s primary and most oft-repeated concerns is the ownership of the system by the Carlyle Group. That’s no longer relevant, because Liberty Utilities — a long-term U.S. utility owner and manager with a great record of service to communities like Missoula — has purchased the water system as part of a $327 million deal for Western Water Holdings, Mountain Water’s grandparent company.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Why is Mountain Water opposed to city ownership?

In this case, there are some clear differences between private ownership by an entity regulated by the Montana Public Service Commission, and by a municipal owner such as the city. As employees of Mountain Water and also as citizens of Missoula, these differences lead us to prefer private ownership.

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP BENEFITS LOCAL SCHOOLS: Every year we provide our community with approximately $1.5 million through the property taxes we pay, making Mountain Water the fifth-largest property tax payer in Missoula County. Those dollars provide funding for local public schools as well as other crucial community infrastructure and services. If Mountain Water were owned by the city, the city would not be required to pay any property taxes and that money would need to be made up elsewhere. In fact, the city’s financial models originally showed property tax payments related to the water system being phased out totally in five years after city take over. The most current financial model the city provided to the PSC shows no property tax payments being made at all in the future.

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP MEANS NO NEW DEBT: Under the city’s plan, the entire purchase price for Mountain Water’s assets would be financed through a revenue bond, creating significant new debt for our community. This would limit our community’s ability to deal with other future needs, including any future water issues. It could also negatively affect the city’s bond rating. Any future capital improvements would require additional debt — which would be paid off through increased rates. We believe our community has many more important priorities than purchasing a system that is already serving the community very well. If the city purchases the water system, principal and interest payments over the next 30 years will be more than $300 million.

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP MEANS YOU HAVE MORE CONTROL OVER RATES AND SERVICE  NOT LESS: Under a private owner, Mountain Water will continue to be regulated by the state Public Service Commission, which is made up of a panel of elected officials and a dedicated, full-time professional staff — all of them specialists in utility regulation. The PSC thoroughly vets our expenses and operations, and we can only change the rates we charge to customers with their review and approval. If the city owned Mountain Water, rates would be overseen by the city council and mayor, whose responsibilities also include everything from planning for urban growth to filling potholes.

Also, the Montana Consumer Counsel can intervene in the PSC process on behalf of customers in rate cases by sending requests for detailed information and participating in the rate cases. The city and other interested parties can also intervene in PSC rate cases. However, under city ownership the Consumer Counsel as an advocate for the citizens would have the same three minutes as anyone else to contest a city rate increase by commenting at a public hearing. In fact, the only thing the city has to do to increase rates is send out a written notice and hold one public hearing. The city council can then approve the rate increase at the conclusion of the public hearing without any further right of the public to object.

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP MEANS EXPERIENCED, COMMITTED OWNERSHIP: Liberty Utilities will be a good, long-term member of the Missoula business community. You can read more about the core values and community commitment of Liberty Utilities in the “Liberty Sale” section of this FAQ. The short of it, though, is that Liberty has a great track record in communities similar to Missoula. They know that efficiency and quality of service are crucial to long-term success. Moreover, they’ve been very fair in dealing with our employee group.

Ultimately, Mountain Water will stay committed to serving this community, as it has for decades. We strongly believe that remaining private will enable us to best continue our tradition of contributing to the fabric of our community while providing stable jobs and reliable water service.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Didn’t the city try to condemn Mountain Water once before?

Yes. In the 1980s, the city of Missoula attempted to take Mountain Water through condemnation. The city argued that it could provide more reliable service at lower cost than did Mountain Water Company’s private owner. But the court disagreed with the city after many years of litigation.

It pointed out that the city’s plan — or lack of planning — did not improve on the way the system was being operated. The court determined that the fair market value for the system would be both a debt and a cost burden to the community. The court also focused on the city’s callous treatment of Mountain Water’s employees as a determining factor in its decision.

In the end, the court ruled against the city and required it to pick up the legal expense of all parties.

The city’s current case is no different from the one in the 1980s, as demonstrated in this February 6, 2015 court filing.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Won’t Missoula residents have more control over their water if the city owns the system?

Missoula residents already have control over their water. As a Montana resident you own the water. That right is guaranteed by the Montana Constitution. The water running through our system is yours and can only be put to beneficial use for you, the citizens.

You also have control over rates and system management through the Montana Public Service Commission — a publicly elected body specifically established to regulate rates and service of privately owned utilities. Under private ownership, the water system would continue to be regulated by that body. Under public ownership that measure of control would go away and rates would be controlled by the city of Missoula, which is not required to follow the same rules of transparency.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
Why should a private company profit from water service?

Whether or not you believe philosophically that private companies should be in the business of providing water service, the most important thing to keep in mind in our case is that Mountain Water’s returns on capital investments are set by the Public Service Commission.

Further, Mountain Water is continually reinvesting its return back into system improvements. In 2016, we are budgeted to invest $5 million in capital improvements — well in excess of our earned return — to ensure continued, reliable service for our community long into the future. Mountain Water’s return on equity is a critical tool in attracting long-term investment in Missoula’s water infrastructure.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Didn’t Carlyle say it would give the city first chance at buying Mountain Water if the company ever came up for sale?

Mountain Water Company has never been offered for sale on a stand-alone basis. When the Carlyle Group decided to offer Western Water Holdings for sale, the city was informed and Carlyle lived up to its commitment in its written agreement with the city. The city chose not to submit an offer for Western Water Holdings. The city previously made two offers for Mountain Water alone, but both were evaluated by Carlyle in good faith and deemed too low. (Western Water Holdings owns Park Water; Park Water in turn comprises three water systems, of which Mountain Water is one.)

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Did the city insist that employees had to sign an employment agreement with them before the case even went to trial?

Yes. And every one of Mountain Water’s employees declined to sign the agreement. You can read the letter explaining our position to the mayor and city council at this link.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What is the “fair market value” of Mountain Water?

On November 17, 2015, a panel of three court-appointed commissioners set a fair market value of $88.6 million for Mountain Water Company’s assets. City officials initially agreed that this was a fair price; then they appealed the valuation to the District Court; then, on the eve of the valuation trial and after the city had unsuccessfully attempted in court to remove approximately 30 potential jurors, they withdrew their appeal. The court cancelled the jury trial over the objection of Mountain Water.

The District Court has now set a schedule for Mountain Water and Carlyle to submit its claim for interest, attorney fees and expenses for consideration. If a final order of possession is entered, we will have the right to appeal all rulings made in the valuation phase.

The assets in question here relate specifically to the water distribution system assets and the rights to pump the water — the pipes, pumps, trucks, buildings, land and other resources necessary to deliver the water to your home, business and neighborhood fire hydrant. Under the Montana Constitution, the people of the state own the water.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
How much does Mountain Water pay in property taxes, and what happens to that if the city takes over the company?

Every year Mountain Water pays approximately $1.5 million in property taxes. Those dollars provide funding for local public schools as well as other crucial community infrastructure and services.

If Mountain Water’s assets were owned by the city, no property taxes would have to be paid on them because the city doesn’t pay taxes. The city (in its role as owner of the water system) and/or the beneficiaries of those taxes (such as the city, the school system, etc.) would need to replace those funds somehow, for example with payments in lieu of taxes from system revenue, other tax hikes elsewhere, or cuts in programs and services. Whatever the funding solution, it would ultimately be dependent on the changing priorities of future city leaders. The city’s most recent plan has the water system paying zero property taxes right from year one, with all other city taxpayers seeing their property taxes rise to make up the loss.

Under private ownership, that $1.5 million per year in property taxes will continue to be paid and will increase over time, and can only continue to support local education and other critical services.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Why is Mountain Water saying that the city should have to pay Mountain Water's property taxes during the condemnation case?

Montana state code determines who is responsible for property taxes in condemnation cases. This is how it reads: “The condemnor must be assessed the condemnor’s pro rata share of taxes for the land being taken as of the date of possession or summons, whichever occurs first. The condemnor must be assessed for all taxes accruing after the date of possession or summons, whichever occurs first.”

To us, this seems clear: the condemnor — in this case the city — must be assessed for the taxes that would normally be paid by Mountain Water, starting on the date of summons. The date of summons in the city’s condemnation case was April 2, 2014.

Mountain Water’s November 2014 tax payment properly noted this problem with its tax assessment. We have since asked the court to issue a formal ruling in this case, which will establish precedence on an important issue for all property owners in Montana.

The tax question case is being tried in Helena. At this point, it has been agreed that if the city does take ownership the city will be assessed Mountain Water’s property taxes since May 2014 — a total of more than $2 million.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What happens if the valuation for the water system is higher than the city can afford to pay?

If the fair market value and related condemnation costs of the Mountain Water system is higher than what the city can cover through existing system revenue, then the city would be forced either to back out of the deal and pay all the attorney fees and associated costs for both sides or to fund the higher purchase price by some combination of higher water rates, higher taxes, reduced services, decreased school funding, reduced investment in water infrastructure, elimination of Mountain Water jobs necessary to maintain reliable water service, etc.

The mayor has made it clear he intends to spend even more attorney fees rather than back out now, even though the $88.6 million valuation by the commissioners is nearly twice what the city claimed the system was worth at the valuation hearing. That number will approach if not exceed $100 million when interest, attorney fees, expenses and property taxes are added in. The mayor has now backed away from the commitment he made at trial to not increase water rates for five years. His current commitment is to not have a rate increase in year one — but that can change with one city council meeting.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016

Water Rates

What will happen to my rates?

Under private ownership, rates will continue to be regulated. As a private company, Mountain Water would still be required to get approval by the Public Service Commission of any rate increase. Furthermore, Liberty Utilities (which now owns Mountain Water through its purchase of Western Water Holdings) is prohibited under Montana law from increasing rates due to the purchase price they paid. Meaning, what Liberty paid for the system has no bearing on your water rates.

On the other hand, if the city owns the system, rates are no longer regulated — and what the city pays for the system has direct bearing on your water rates. There would be no public entity specifically tasked with controlling utility rates to limit what you pay for water. The purchase price of the system would be recovered through rates charged by the city. And increases could be hidden in taxes and ancillary fees, even if the water rates stay the same. In other words, the city could charge whatever it deems necessary to cover the costs of condemning, owning and operating the system.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
How are water rates determined?

Because Mountain Water is privately owned, the rates it charges customers are closely regulated by the Montana Public Service Commission. The PSC reviews all of our expenses and determines what we can charge to customers. We can’t charge a penny more than what the PSC deems reasonable, prudent and necessary, whether it’s the cost of replacing a water main or what we pay for postage.

In the course of the PSC’s regulatory process, the Montana Consumer Counsel takes a very active role in determining the reasonableness of our costs and rates. Other parties such as the city of Missoula can intervene in PSC rate proceedings as well.

Very few of our expenses can be charged as individual, separate fees to customers. Instead, our expenses for delivery, repairs, maintenance, hookups and so on are reflected in the water and service rates that our customers pay. This is very much different from how municipal utilities typically handle those charges.

You can see a full explanation of our water rates at this link.

If the city were to own the water system, then the Missoula City Council would determine rates and fees at its own discretion. No evidentiary hearing would be held, making it difficult for any person or party to appeal the council’s decisions to district court. This is a significant difference from the rate-setting process under PSC regulations.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
Are Missoula’s water rates higher than other Montana communities with municipal service?

The total cost of getting water to your home here is competitive with other communities around the state. Here’s why:

As a regulated utility, Mountain Water must include all of its costs transparently in the rate it charges to customers. Those costs include the costs to pump the water, repairs and maintenance, hookup charges, infrastructure improvements, emergency supply maintenance and more. The rate on your bill reflects all the costs of running and improving a water system.

Municipalities must pay all those same costs, but they tend to structure pricing in a more ‘a la carte’ fashion. So, for example, they can raise taxes, charge independently for service calls, require developers to pay hookup fees (which developers then pass along to buyers and renters in the form of higher home prices), appropriate funds from elsewhere, etc. None of those charges is reflected in the base water rate charged to customers, yet customers still pay them in order to get water to their homes and businesses.

Often, this means that monthly rates from municipalities appear lower than they actually are because operating and capital improvement costs are funded through other fees or taxes.

Last modified: Feb 11 2015
Do I have a voice in what future water rates will be?

Yes. The regulatory process of the Montana Public Service Commission provides numerous avenues for members of the public to voice their concerns about water rates. In addition, the Montana Consumer Counsel works on behalf of regulated utility customers to assure fair rates. And the city of Missoula and any other interested parties can intervene in these processes as well, just as the city has numerous times in the past.

However, under city ownership the city sets the rates without the PSC. The Montana Consumer Counsel has limited standing to intervene in a municipal rate-setting process; and you cannot sue the city council or mayor over the rates they set.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014

Liberty Ownership

Who is Liberty Utilities?

Liberty Utilities operates regulated utilities that deliver responsive and reliable water, wastewater, natural gas and electricity transmission and distribution service to approximately 500,000 customers in 11 states including, now, Montana.

Liberty takes a local approach to management, service and support — meaning that customers of Mountain Water won’t experience changes in the way they are served under Liberty ownership. The company’s core values — Care, Quality and Efficiency — also closely align with our company’s long-established values.

For more information, you can visit www.libertyutilities.com.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
When did Liberty Utilities take over?

Liberty completed the purchase of Western Water Holdings on January 8, 2016. As customers in Missoula have seen, this change of upstream ownership had no impact on water service, rates or other aspects of Missoula’s water system.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
How have Mountain Water employees reacted to the change of ownership?

The employees see in Liberty Utilities a company that is highly experienced in regulated water utility operations. They see a company where annual employee turnover is less than 5 percent. They see a company with an 83 percent customer satisfaction rate, and a broad commitment to the communities they serve. Those are values we all share.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
Won’t Liberty Utilities need to raise customer rates in order to justify the price it paid for Western Water Holdings?

Whether Liberty Utilities had paid $1 or $1 billion for Western Water Holdings, water rates won’t change as a result of the transaction. The Montana Public Service Commission determines Missoula’s water rates after they consider an array of factors in our business, from the cost of employee health insurance to the original costs of infrastructure. By law, the PSC cannot allow a regulated utility to increase water rates due to any costs associated with an ownership change.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Was anyone laid off at Mountain Water when Liberty took over?

No. Mountain Water Company’s long-term stability and reputation for quality service were major reasons why Liberty Utilities was interested in this acquisition. The company will continue to provide jobs with no reduction in pay or benefits for everyone who worked at Mountain Water Company prior to the purchase.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Was there any restructuring of Mountain Water’s leadership team?

Mountain Water remains a locally managed utility, and Liberty Utilities relies on our experienced, local management team to maintain and enhance the quality operations we have created here. The only change was that John Kappes, president of Mountain Water Company, no longer reports to Park Water. He now reports directly to Liberty’s vice president of finance, Gerald Tremblay. This change allows Mountain Water to operate more autonomously.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What did Liberty Utilities pay for Mountain Water Company?

Mountain Water Company was purchased as part of Western Water Holdings. Western Water Holdings owns Park Water, which comprises three water utilities: Mountain Water Company and two water utilities in California. That total value was $327 million, including the assumption of $77 million of existing long-term utility debt.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
How does the Liberty purchase impact the city of Missoula’s ongoing eminent domain case?

Liberty’s purchase of Western Water Holdings changes nothing about the status or future of the city’s condemnation case. Mountain Water still owns all of the assets the city is trying to take.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What will happen to the Liberty deal if the city of Missoula wins its condemnation case?

The city would pay fair market value to Mountain Water at that time for its assets. If the city cannot afford to pay fair market value for the system due to bonding limitations or the increases in water rates that would result, then the city could back out of the condemnation, but will be responsible for Mountain Water’s and Carlyle’s attorney fees and expenses.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
How will Liberty’s purchase of Mountain affect the schedule or budget for water infrastructure improvements in Missoula?

Liberty brings deep financial resources and a long-term commitment to maintaining and improving Missoula’s water system. So we anticipate that we will continue to invest at a commensurate or higher level to continue to improve Missoula’s water infrastructure.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Park Water provided management and other services to Mountain Water Company. How will that relationship change?

Under Liberty Utilities, the services that were provided to our operations and customers by Park Water will continue to be provided by Park Water for the time being. In the future, we anticipate that those services will either be transferred to Liberty Utilities, or be moved to Missoula.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016

Water & System Condition

Who owns the water?

By the Montana state Constitution, you (as a Montana resident) own the water. Mountain Water only owns the rights to put that water to the beneficial use of the public. Those rights can’t be conveyed to any other use that isn’t beneficial to Montana. The ownership in question in the condemnation case is only related to the water distribution system assets and the rights to pump the water — the pipes, pumps, trucks, buildings, land and other resources necessary to deliver the water to your home, business and neighborhood fire hydrant.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
Will Mountain Water cut back on maintenance and upgrades given the condemnation proceedings?

Until the courts issue their final rulings, it is business-as-usual at Mountain Water. We will continue to manage, repair and upgrade our system to ensure the continued delivery of clean, reliable water service to our Missoula customers.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Is Mountain Water’s system as old as the City is saying?

Mountain Water’s system has older equipment in its facilities as well as brand new equipment. However, just because equipment is old doesn’t mean it isn’t reliable. We have great maintenance programs and experienced, professional technicians who help this community get the most out of the equipment we buy. We have an ongoing replacement and asset renewal program that replaces equipment before it becomes unsafe or unreliable.

Just because a piece of equipment is past its “accounting” useful life, doesn’t mean it won’t continue to be reliable for many more years. It just means this community doesn’t have to pay for a new one too soon.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
If Mountain Water is really investing millions of dollars each year in upgrades, why is the system so leaky?

It’s true that Missoula’s water system needs work in places (although it’s not nearly as challenged as the city claims). The reason is as unique as our valley, and it won’t change in the future — no matter who owns the water system.

Water leaked in that way is perfectly safe for the aquifer; the only downside of water system leakage is the electricity used to pump that lost water. That cost translates to less than $1 per residential customer per year on average.

In recent years, we’ve implemented innovated new technologies to detect leaking mains. As a result, we’ve reduced overall system leakage by 19 percent since 2007.

There is an important factor to consider in the discussion of system leakage. Unlike in many other states, the service lines that connect Missoula homes and businesses to water mains are owned by the property owner, not by Mountain Water. For most of our customers with older service lines, the meter is located in the building or the customer does not have a meter. There is no way to separate how much leakage is from our system and how much is due to leaking service lines owned by customers. What we do know is that service lines owned by customers — which are under the same water pressure as our mains — account for approximately half of the total underground water delivery pipes in Missoula.

All of that said, we’re investing like never before in system improvements. We’re making great strides. And we fully intend to continue investing in and improving the system in the coming years.

We have an ongoing business plan and financial plan to continue to replace our infrastructure in a systematic approach. This approach will ensure that you receive continued, reliable service at reasonable costs. In 2012, we started an Advisory Committee of local stakeholders to be sure we are accountable to this community. We continue to work with this committee to assure that we are meeting needs today and that we are preparing for the future.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
What’s the deal with the rating of the dams in the Rattlesnake Wilderness?

The U.S. Forest Service employs a dam classification system that categorizes our wilderness dams on the damage they would cause if they failed, not on the condition of the dams. The Forest Service also sets the design standards for the dams. The classification system has three ratings: low, significant and high.

Our dams in the Rattlesnake Wilderness are rated “significant hazard” due to the damage that a breach could theoretically cause to bull trout spawning habitat in a Rattlesnake Creek tributary. The designation of our dams as a “significant hazard” just means that we had to build and maintain them to higher standards, to assure that they don’t fail. That’s exactly what we have done.

The city has testified it would notch (dismantle and render useless) the dams and abandon their use under city ownership. It is not clear what impact this would have on fish and the watershed.

Last modified: Feb 10 2016
Is the dam in Rattlesnake Creek a barrier to fish?

No. The sluice gates are wide open for the fish to swim upstream and there is an effective fish ladder as well. That said, the inactive dam is at the end of its life and so we are working on plans to remove or replace this structure.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014
Why did Mountain Water cover the pipes in its well houses?

Our new method of insulating well house piping keeps condensation from forming on the pipes during the summer and causing corrosion. This new method not only protects the piping from corrosion but also eliminates the need for costly repainting. On the day before the city’s attorneys paid a contractor $10,000 to inspect the well house pipes, they alleged that we covered the pipes to hide them from view. This is simply untrue.

Last modified: Nov 03 2014

Make your voice heard

How can I voice my opinion about the city’s condemnation case?

First, the bad news: The city chose not to put the issue of condemnation to a public vote, so you did not have the chance to voice your opinion at the ballot box.

But there are still plenty of ways to encourage the city council and mayor to abandon their costly, unnecessary effort to take Mountain Water. They can choose to stop this process at any time. You can help them see the wisdom of that choice.

Click through this link to visit our action page, where you’ll find contact information for city officials and other information.

If enough local citizens speak out about the city’s lack of a plan, its skyrocketing costs, its treatment of Mountain Water employees and its needless taking of a private company, then hopefully city officials will put an end to the condemnation effort.

We know as a community we can afford to stop the condemnation action. By continuing, the city puts future generations of Missoula residents into tremendous debt — debt that we have never before faced because we were served by a regulated utility.

Last modified: Feb 11 2015