The Arizona Corporation Commission has approved the sale of Brooke Water LLC, a water utility located north of Parker, to EPCOR Water Arizona. The vote came at the commission’s July 16 open meeting. La Paz County District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor, whose district includes Brooke’s service area, informed the Supervisors of the approval at their July 20 meeting. He said the vote was 3-1, with one abstention.
Minor remarked that the proposed sale had drawn a lot of interest from residents and many of them had attended public hearings held in the Parker area. He said it was ironic that, when the final vote was made, the public couldn’t be in the hearing room due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.
As stated in the official record on the commission’s website, “Commissioners voted to cancel Brooke Water’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N), to transfer the assets of Brooke to EPCOR Water Arizona and to extend EPCOR Havasu Water District’s CC&N to include Brooke’s service territory.”
The commission also approved a rate increase for Brooke’s service area.
“A customer with a 5/8 x 3/4-inch meter with average usage of 2,438 gallons can expect a bill increase of approximately $7.66, or 28.9 percent,” the commission report said.
Both Brook Water and EPCOR had asked for increases of more than 40 percent. This was partly due to the fact that Brook had seen a rate increase in almost 30 years.
Minor had questioned the “average” usage as described by Brooke and EPCOR. He said this did not take into account there are many vacation homes in Brooke’s service area that are not occupied for much of the year. He said the average use in Arizona is 7,500 gallons per month. He said he and his wife use about 9,000 gallons per month.
Minor said he was glad the rate increase wasn’t as much as what Brooke and EPCOR had asked for, but that it would still cause hardship for some residents. He said he would’ve preferred a phased-in rate increase of no more than 10 percent a year.
EPCOR first expressed an interest in buying Brooke in May 2019. At that time, Brooke had something of a troubled history. Their problems became public following a major outage that occurred Aug. 21-24, 2016. A failed pressure valve led to five breaks in the lines. Service was not fully restored until Aug. 24.
The corporation commission found Brooke was a system whose lines had been installed more than 50 years earlier and were nearing the end of their useful life. They also found much wear and tear on the storage system and found poor customer service on the part of Brooke.
One of the benefits of the sale promised by EPCOR would be that Brooke customers would have much better customer service.
Since 2016, many upgrades have been made on Brooke’s system.
The corporation commission lists Brooke as a Class C public service corporation providing water utility service to approximately 2,025 customers in a service territory in and around Parker, Ariz. EPCOR is the largest private water and wastewater utility in Arizona, serving approximately 138,137 water customers and 71,836 wastewater customers across several service districts located in Maricopa, Mohave and Santa Cruz Counties.