Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

By the numbers

State report calls for fine, delay of new system for Aloha Utilities

TRINITY — A state report released Friday says Aloha Utilities should shelve its plans for a new water treatment system while a multicounty agency negotiates a buyout of the much-criticized utility.

Staff members of the Public Service Commission also say Aloha should be fined $5,000 for failing to report delays in getting the "anion exchange" system built in the first place.

Public Service commissioners will consider the two staff recommendations at their April 8 meeting.

State. Sen. Mike Fasano, a customer and frequent Aloha critic, said he supports both recommendations.

"Aloha should be penalized for their delays in fulfilling their agreement," he said.

Aloha president Steve Watford said in an e-mail Friday that he was reviewing the reports but would not comment until after commissioners vote.

The first recommendation would put on hold for 120 days additional work toward the anion exchange treatment system, which promises to improve the taste, color and odor of Trinity-area customers' water. That project was a key requirement of a 2006 settlement between Aloha and customers, who had complained for years about the quality of their water.

The Florida Governmental Utility Authority, which Pasco County commissioners last month voted to join, had asked the state agency for the temporary hold. The utility authority argues that, if it bought Aloha, it would purchase enough water from Pasco County that the treatment system may not be necessary.

Continued work on the treatment system, the authority argues, could diminish the possibility of a sale or increase the purchase price, the staff report says.

The utility authority is a nonprofit association of nine county and three city governments. Its sole task is buying and running private utilities for local governments. Pasco commissioners joined to pursue buyouts of Aloha, Mad Hatter Utilities, Lindrick Service Corp. and Holiday Utility.

The second staff recommendation says Aloha should be ordered to show why it should not be fined $5,000 for failing to report project delays in its required quarterly reports to regulators.

Under the settlement agreement, the treatment system should have been finished by this July. But Aloha experienced delays, first in working out a bulk water purchase agreement with Pasco County and then with receiving a crucial technical report from a former University of South Florida engineering professor.

Last summer, Aloha said it expected the project to be finished by February 2009. This January, Aloha reported that it can't say when the project would be finished.

Commission staff members ding Aloha on the issue with the professor's report. Dr. Audrey Levine left the university in December 2006 and was late by several months getting essential data and reports to Aloha.

But in its quarterly updates to the commission, Aloha does not note its problems with Levine.

"Aloha's failure to report the project delay in its quarterly reports to the commission appears to be a violation of its obligations," the staff recommendation says.

Regulators recently approved rate increases that would double the water bills for many of Aloha's residential customers. That rate increase is contingent on tying into Pasco's water system. Earlier this week, both Aloha and members of a citizens group, Committee for Better Water Now, petitioned for a hearing on the commission's final order regarding the rate increase.

"Until these protests are resolved, Aloha will be placed in a posture where it will be extremely difficult" to hook up to Pasco County, the staff report says.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at or (727) 869-6247.

>>Fast facts

By the numbers

$5,000 Fine suggested by Public Service Commission staff members.

2 Number of recommendations by commission staff members.

120 Number of days that work toward the anion exchange treatment system would be on hold.

State report calls for fine, delay of new system for Aloha Utilities 03/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 30, 2008 12:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Forecast: Less stormy weather to start week in Tampa Bay before chances ramp back up


    After some stormy mornings throughout the weekend across Tampa Bay, Monday kicks off pretty quietly with a cloudy, yet mainly dry start.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Florida education news: #HB7069, 'Robin Hood' funding, the search for teachers and more


    WHAT NEXT? Every year, new state laws hit the books that have to be implemented once they take effect. But House Bill …

    Over 600 new Hillsborough County teachers listen to superintendent Jeff Eakins during an orientation in July 2016.
  3. Water Hogs: During drought, hundreds of Tampa Bay homes guzzled a gallon of water a minute


    When Amalie Oil president Harry Barkett plunked down $6.75-million for his Bayshore Boulevard mansion, he picked up 12.5 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, an elevator and a deck bigger than some one-bedroom apartments.

    During one of the worst droughts in the Tampa Bay region's history, hundreds of houses used more than a gallon of water a minute. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times

  4. PolitiFact Florida checks out Rick Baker's talking point about the growth of St. Petersburg's A-rated schools


    Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg mayor
  5. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson