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Cathie Rowand/The Journal Gazette
Kevin Diercks of Aqua Indiana fills in a hole in June after repairing a valve on Montclair Drive. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission today ordered the private utility to make changes to allow connections to Fort Wayne's water supply.

Aqua Indiana ordered to make connections plan

FORT WAYNE – The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission issued its report Friday on Aqua Indiana's performance during this summer's severe drought, ordering the private utility to make changes to allow more connections to the city of Fort Wayne's water supply.

The two systems can be connected in multiple locations, but because of different treatment methods used, the two waters cannot be mixed.

During the summer drought, about 1,200 Aqua Indiana customers were connected to City Utilities water supplies, but not the rest of the approximately 12,000 customers Aqua Indiana serves.

The IURC said Aqua must either change disinfecting methods so the waters can be mixed or make changes to allow more areas to be isolated so they can use City Utilities water. The connections between the two must also be improved so there is no loss of fire protection in the isolated areas.

Aqua Indiana officials praised the report, saying it shows their reaction to the drought met industry standards.

"We're pleased with it," Aqua Indiana President Tom Bruns said. "Many things (suggested) in there are already works in progress."

Two weeks ago, Mayor Tom Henry announced the city will attempt to forcibly take over Aqua Indiana through the condemnation process, citing water-pressure and water-quality issues. City officials Friday said the report reinforces their contention.

"The biggest, overriding factor is it is clear now that City Utilities owning and operating those facilities directly or working in collaboration with Aqua Indiana is much more cost effective, gives better quality, better fire protection for the citizens than Aqua Indiana attempting to continue doing it on their own," said City Utilities' Ted Nitza.

Aqua Indiana officials have disputed allegations of poor water quality and pressure.

Aqua Indiana has until Oct. 1 to complete and submit a new master plan to the IURC. The utility must also identify and implement a solution by May 1 to address fire protection risks related to interconnection.

For more on this story, or see Saturday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.

dstockman@jg.net

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