published Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Excellent local water service

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has renewed his call for a city takeover of Tennessee American Water. And the same thing should come of it as has come from similar efforts in the past: nothing.

Area customers pay less than a penny for a gallon of good, clean water. Perhaps the fact that water is such a bargain is why those who want Tennessee American to sell to the city routinely cite the percentages -- rather than the actual dollars -- when the utility seeks a rate increase.

Tennessee American now is asking regulators for a 23-percent rate increase. Sounds shocking, right?

Not really. Even if the full increase were approved -- which is highly unlikely -- it would add only around $6 per month to the typical Chattanooga ratepayer's bill. The average bill would be about $25 per month.

Most people with cell phones pay far more than that per month for service.

So the mayor's likening of the water company to "a bad tooth" just doesn't particularly resonate with customers, and there hasn't been any apparent public groundswell of support for the takeover of Tennessee American.

Nor should there be.

It's important to note the nearly $130 million that Tennessee American has pumped into local infrastructure over the past decade and a half and the anticipated need for work on pumps, pipelines and water treatment facilities in coming years. The need for work on the water system would not suddenly disappear if the city were in control, and there is no special reason to think that government can manage the provision of water better.

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority plans to decide on Tennessee American's rate increase request at the end of this year. Whether the full increase is justified is a matter of reasonable debate.

But it would be better to have that debate out from under the cloud of a possible takeover of the utility by the city.

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nucanuck said...

It's only logical that a European company should be able to sell us the water from the Tennessee river. What could be more logical. No cost constraints that can't be added to overhead and packaged in the next rate request. Why would we ever want to control the most essential utility service in our own community. If we owned it, that would be socialism...perish the thought.

Corporations have our best interests at heart and will always do the right thing.

June 9, 2012 at 12:48 a.m.
conservative said...

Everyone knows that if Chattanooga owned the water company the cost of water would go down.

Reminds me of other "truisms" : "The check is in the mail", "this won't hurt", "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

June 9, 2012 at 9:32 a.m.

It's funny, you think the price of a gallon of tap water is relevant.

It's not. You must be confusing it with bottled water.

But what's even funnier is if it were government action, raising the rates, you would be in a hysterical rage, even if it were a tenth the amount. You also use percentages when you can get the right reaction from using them. But let's see your math. 15 years is 180 months. That's less than a million a month in investment.

How many customers do they have, with their 25 dollars a month?

June 9, 2012 at 9:39 a.m.
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