The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) recently approved key measures to help water companies become more sustainable and provide emergency help to ensure safe, reliable water for customers.
ACC Chairman Doug Little and Commissioner Andy Tobin both introduced new policy statements that were approved unanimously at a recent special open meeting.
Small water utilities provide service to many rural areas throughout Arizona; many of these small companies have had major financial and operational challenges. The chairman’s policies provide for more efficient processing of rate cases and provide for mechanisms the companies can use in emergencies.
"This is the first major step to solving a decade’s long problem in Arizona,” Little said. “The struggling water companies need to have some clear direction in order to continue operating or become stable enough in order to be acquired by a larger company. This is truly a historic day where streamlining complicated processes will benefit the customers who will be more confident that they will have access to safe water.”
Tobin's policies include commission staff participation in the new Water Emergency Team (WET). WET consists of representatives from government agencies and water providers to facilitate immediate relief where there is an imminent threat to public health and safety. His policies also reduce regulatory burdens on small companies which could cause delays during water-related emergencies.
“While it’s easy to prove that government often moves slow and painfully misses the target, that can’t be said today about the Arizona Corporation Commission,” Tobin said. “Months of work and deep concern by the commission about rural water crises brought the public, private and consumer stakeholders together and fostered rare cooperation to solve often cataclysmic small, rural private water company issues. The comprehensive package of policy statements we passed unanimously lays the groundwork to prevent future water emergencies. While this will take time to perfect, I thank all of the stakeholders and my fellow commissioners for their attention and contributions to the process of leading on this issue in the right direction.”