Peoria Hears Both Sides of Water Buyout Debate

Oct 26, 2017

It’s a full year before the city of Peoria must decide if it wants to buy the water company. But competing views on a possible purchase were at the forefront Wed.

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Illinois American Water, the company that currently owns Peoria's water utility, held a forum at Trewyn Middle School Wed. Proponents of a publicly-owned utility held a press conference at Trewyn to offer their alternative perspective.

Attorney Joe Connor, representing Illinois American Water Company, says a city-owned water system is no assurance that there would be better service than the water company provides, which is regulated by the Illinois commerce Commission.

"It’s a regulated monopoly," Connor said. "There is no regulation to control what the city might do in terms of rates, in terms of infrastructure, or in terms of quality."

Jenya Polozova of Food and Water Watch, sees it otherwise.

"Private control has led to rate hikes, terrible customer service, inadequate system upkeep and other serious problems," Polozova said. "That’s what’s happening in Peoria today, where the residents pay double the water rates than most Illinois residents that get their water from publicly-owned utilities."

The council has not made any decisions on whether to pursue the purchase. The cost for due diligence to determine if a buyout is feasible is estimated at $400,000.