State Regulators Approve Deal in Arizona Water Service Dispute

PHOENIX (AP) — State utility regulators have approved a settlement to a long-lingering dispute between two Arizona water companies over a section of service territory south of Phoenix.

The Arizona Corporation Commission on Tuesday approved the settlement, allowing the Arizona Water Co. to keep in its service area 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) of undeveloped land near Casa Grande, The Arizona Republic reported .

The commission granted the territory to Arizona Water in 2004. Rival company Cornman-Tweedy has challenged that decision since 2005.

Cornman-Tweedy is owned by Ed Robson, a developer who also operates multiple water and sewer companies. Cornman-Tweedy sought to develop the area and service it with its own water company.

Commissioner Boyd Dunn proposed for the commission to take away the territory from Arizona Water last year, prompting a new round of disputes and legal maneuvering.

The issue was further complicated by the developer’s political contributions. Robson Communities officials gave $23,500 to Dunn’s 2016 election, and donated $3,000 for commission Chairman Tom Forese’s campaign for state treasurer. Forese has returned the money, according to campaign records.

Under the settlement, Arizona Water will repay Cornman-Tweedy for building water infrastructure that is used by the company to service the area.

While the commission’s process on the matter has been criticized, Forese said the commission has acted fairly.

“There have been critics of this process,” Forese said. “I will remind everyone it is not the critic that counts. This was done by commissioners duly elected. It was done in transparency. It was not done for one utility or another. It was done in the best interest of ratepayers and the public.”

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