"Private No More: Montana City Takes Control of Its Water System"

"Missoula was the only city in Montana that had a privately owned water system. Now, after decades of effort, it has succeeded in taking back the utility. City leaders explain how it happened."

"On June 22, something momentous happened in Missoula, Montana: The city officially took ownership of its water system after it had been under private control for more than a century.

The acquisition, when it finally came, required a lengthy and complicated court-supervised eminent domain (the right of government to take private property) proceeding after decades of effort by city leaders. Mountain Water Company, as it was known, had been operated by a sole proprietor for many years, making Missoula the only city in Montana that did not control its own water system.

The water system was sold in 2011 to the Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, which then quickly sold it to Liberty Utilities, part of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation, a private utility conglomerate based in Canada. All the while, says Mayor John Engen, the absentee owners had been raising water rates on Missoula residents while cutting back on maintenance, resulting in a water system that was slowly deteriorating."

Matt Weiser reports for Water Deeply December 20, 2017.

Source: Water Deeply, 12/20/2017