Information Key To Water Decision

St. Clairsville resident Bill Brooks is right about one thing: Aqua Ohio, the company that has indicated interest in taking over the city’s water system “is not coming to bail us out out of the goodness of their heart.”

No company can make such decisions solely on the basis of doing nice things for people. All in the private sector must be profitable — or they cease to exist.

But, as we have pointed out previously, Aqua Ohio or some other firm specializing in water treatment and distribution may be able to do what is needed in St. Clairsville at less cost than leaving the system under municipal ownership and management. For one thing, bigger operations enjoy economies of scale not available to smaller communities.

The question of whether the water system should remain under municipal control or be sold to a private entity came up again during a St. Clairsville City Council meeting this week. Harsh words were exchanged between Brooks and city Safety and Service Director Jim Zucal.

City officials and some residents have devoted substantial time and energy to considering the question. As Brooks suggested, a professional, independent report on the financial aspects of keeping the system vs. selling it should be prepared.

What to do with the water system is a very big decision. Getting the most reliable information available is critical in making the best choice — and it would be money well spent.

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