FORT WAYNE – A new well will allow Aqua Indiana customers to resume watering their lawns, but it will neither end the connection between the private company and Fort Wayne City Utilities nor the citys desire to provide water to even more Aqua customers.
The private utility Tuesday announced its 11th well was functional, providing up to 500,000 gallons of water a day to the Chestnut Hills treatment plant on Illinois Road.
The new well allowed the company to remove its ban on watering lawns.
Tom Bruns, company president, said the new well likely wont mean changes for everyday use of the water – such as increased pressure – but it will make the company more capable to deal with droughts like the community faced this summer.
The capacity of the new well is not necessary to meet daily demand, but it can generate a significant amount of additional water that is now immediately available should it be necessary, he said.
The company pumped more than 5 million gallons of water a day to its customers during the July heat and drought, but demand dropped to 3.3 million gallons a day during August.
During that peak time in July, the company connected 1,200 of its customers to City Utilities and faced an inquiry by the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission over water pressure concerns.
With pressure from the state regulators, the company agreed to conduct an independent audit of its operations for the state. The contract for the work is to be issued next month with the report completed in November, according to the companys request for proposals document.
While he believes his utility has adequate water capacity to serve its customers, Bruns said it will remain connected to City Utilities until the audit is completed. The connected customers use about 250,000 gallons a day, Bruns said.
Ted Nitza, consultant for City Utilities, said the city was pleased Aqua customers can now enjoy the same freedoms of water use enjoyed by city customers throughout the summer – Fort Wayne never imposed water restrictions.
Many Aqua customers expressed their pleasure with the citys service and water quality, Nitza said, and the city hopes to expand that service to even more private customers.
City Utilities would like to see that connection expand to other customers of Aqua Indiana, and we would like to see that interconnection remain permanent .
While Nitza said Mayor Tom Henry wants to increase efforts to get all city residents quality water, there are only preliminary discussions with Aqua about long-term plans.
Bruns said those discussions are part of a much larger picture of how the two utilities can exist together. He said they include the city selling water to a portion of Aqua customers and some wastewater issues.
The city bought the northern section of Aqua Indiana through condemnation in 2008 for $16.9 million, but the company is disputing that price. The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to rule on procedural issues between the sides before the case proceeds on the actual price.
Henry has previously said it would be unwise to do anything with the southwest utility before the northern purchase is resolved.