BULLETIN: PSC Approves Artesian Takeover of Cecil County Water, Sewer Plants; Rejects ARCA Claims

September 2, 2011

The Maryland Public Service Commission has issued an order approving the sale of most Cecil County water and sewage treatment plants to the private Artesian firm, rejecting arguments by the Appleton Regional Community Alliance (ARCA).

In an order dated 8/31/11, the PSC ruled that Artesian had “the financial, technical, and managerial resources and qualifications to operate and maintain the water system in Elkton West and in the Elkton West Extended area in Cecil County, Maryland.”

Furthermore, Artesian demonstrated, with a detailed analysis by the Maryland Department of the Environment, that the company has significant water resources to more than meet the needs of the area for which the county granted Artesian a franchise, the PSC said.

“In addition to its financial, technical and managerial fitness, the Applicants have demonstrated the ability to assure the availability of adequate and reliable water supplies for the foreseeable future from avariety of sources, including Susquehanna River sources that are currently unavailable to the County,” the PSC stated.

And the regulatory panel also rejected claims by ARCA that the sale would impair the county’s ability to comply with state and federal anti-pollution mandates for its other operations. In fact, the PSC said, documents and the sales contract specifically show that excess nutrient credits would revert to the county.

“The Applicants have also provided adequate assurances that their acquisition of the County’s wastewater facilities will not jeopardize the availability of Chesapeake Bay nutrient credits to the County’s detriment,” the PSC ruled. “Indeed, the Applicants have obligated themselves to release any excess nutrient credits associated with facilities acquired from Cecil County back to the County for the County’s use at other facilities. ”

The PSC ruling was the last regulatory hurdle to the sale, which has been pending since a contract was signed over three years ago. But earlier this week, a three-member majority of the current Board of Commissioners voted to hire a new legal counsel to review that contract and seek ways to “renegotiate” the sewage plan portion of the contract.

Cecil Times will file a more in-depth report later. Stay tuned to Cecil Times for more exclusive breaking news.

[UPDATE: Read full updated report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/09/state-psc-approves-sale-of-most-cecil-county-water-sewer-plants-to-private-artesian-firm/

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