Peoria's water supply remains privately owned

Nov 27, 2013

The City of Peoria will not exercise its option to buy Illinois American Water Company. The council voted eight to three against going ahead with the purchase. It’s an option that comes before the city every five years because of a purchase agreement between city leaders and Illinois American Water in 1889. Councilwoman Beth Akeson voted to pursue the buyout option.

Akeson: “I would certainly hope we would understand and recognize this tremendous asset we have. And it does produce revenue! As the President has told us they deliver a return to their investors and I think this particular unit contributes quite handsomely.” 

Akeson says the city would know what revenue potential the water company has only with a vote to purchase it. That would trigger the appraisal and due diligence to assess the value of the city’s water works. Karla Teasley is the president of Illinois American Water. She says it doesn’t make sense to fix what is not broken.

Teasley: “We would much rather be focused on pumping water, taking care of leaks, replacing pipes, and being a solid community partner and citizen than debating ownership of the water system every five years.”

Teasley says Illinois American Water is interested to work with the city to craft a franchise agreement that would extend the buyout option. Early talks suggest the water company could pay three million dollars a year to the city in franchise and permit fees. Under those terms, the buyout option would also be extended twenty years, with the city maintaining imminent domain rights.