Pennsylvania American: Upper Pottsgrove Sewer Deal Done

UPPER POTTSGROVE PA – The $13.75 million purchase of Upper Pottsgrove Township’s waste water system by Pennsylvania American Water is complete, the American Water subsidiary company proclaimed Thursday (June 30, 2022), ending an occasionally contentious process begun more than two years ago.

The deal at one point was held up due to a legal dispute between the township Board of Commissioners and the Pottstown Borough Authority over Upper Pottsgrove’s failure to re-pay the $470,000 cost of a years-old sewer system expansion installed on the township’s behalf. Commissioners lost that battle. The judge in the case sided with Pottstown, and the re-payment must come out of the sale proceeds.

Pennsylvania American “couldn’t be more pleased” to welcome residents of Upper Pottsgrove as new wastewater customers,” its president, Mike Doran, said in a statement. With the acquisition the company gains roughly 1,550 customers. “We look forward to providing this community with safe, reliable service” due to its investments, expertise, and experience, he added.

The company also said it would invest more than $4 million in Upper Pottsgrove sewer system improvements during the next five years, including sewer “main and manhole replacements, technology and control system upgrades, lift station upgrades and meter replacements.” They are necessary, the company added, “to meet current and future environmental regulations.”

The purchase was approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in September 2021.

As part of the utility commission’s approval, Pennsylvania American must adopt existing Upper Pottsgrove Township sewer rates, and over time will transition customers from a quarterly to monthly billing cycle. Because it regulates the company’s rates, rules, and regulations, any future rate changes will require utility commission review and approval.

For their part, Upper Pottsgrove commissioners said the sale relieves the township of the need for future sewer investments, eliminates future and potentially unforeseen risks and headaches, and “will greatly enhance” the township’s long-term financial security. Sale critics contended it only opens the door to higher rates over the long term.

As an aside, Pennsylvania American’s statement also noted it completed a sewer system purchase last month (May 2022) from the City of York. It serves more than 45,000 customers, including 14,000 direct customer connections and bulk service to seven surrounding municipalities. The York purchase represented the company’s largest sewer system acquisition so far.

With both deals now in the books, the company said it is now “the wastewater provider for nearly 225,000 Pennsylvanians.”