Far west water and sewer back in Hot Water

Far west water and sewer back in Hot Water

Story By: Tim Lavigne, Meteorologist and Reporter

YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Nearly 2 months after a rate increase nearly tripled its Sewer rates, Far West Water and Sewer is coming under fire again. The issue this time - a new lawsuit between the company and the City of Yuma for money they owe them for wastewater treatment.

13 On Your Side wanted to know how residents felt about the issue. Bill Edwards, a Far West customer of 3 and a half years, says "they' a great company, and I have never had an issue with them". However just across the street from Edwards, Bob Gerberick a Far West Customer of 9 years, disagrees. When speaking about the rate increase and the level of service, Gerberick says "it hasn't changed a bit."

As 13 On Your Side first reported, Far West asked for a 162% increase to its sewer rates back in April 2013. In September, The Arizona Corporation Commission approved the increase, on the promise Far West would use the extra cash to pay back its debts, and to repair its infrastructure. In October, Far West failed to send out mandatory notices of the rate increase to its customers, which delayed the increase from taking effect until November 2013.

and now, Far West has a new problem, with the City of Yuma concerning 29,000 dollars it owes to the City for wastewater treatment that it promised to pay back when the rate increase went into effect.

City Spokesperson Dave Nash says that he cannot comment on whether or not the City is close to a settlement on the issue.

We asked Edwards and Gerberick if Far West deserved a second chance. Edwards says "I've seen a water company go down before, if they do they'll shut off our water and we'll only get it 2 days a week, and if the government takes over it'll take years and make it far worse than we have it now."

Gerberick - is tired of what he calls "less than adequate service." He says, they don't deserve a second chance. I think it's ridiculous. I think the A.C.C. should come down here and pay our sewer bills for the while.

The City also tells 13 On Your Side that there is no short-term solution if the City steps in. In fact, the only way the city could step in is if neighborhoods voted to be annexed into City utilities and services - and that is only available to some of the neighborhoods that are paying for Far West service.

We spoke to the Arizona Corporation Commission to ask if this 29,000 dollar lawsuit would be deemed sufficient to make them step in to enforce demands, The commission says it does not know at this time.