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Lock Haven’s water system could change ownership; residents share concerns

Sydney Roach

Lock Haven City Council members are considering three options for who will manage the city’s water system, which needs tens of millions of dollars worth of repairs and improvements.

One option is to create a joint authority with Castanea and Wayne Townships. The other options are to sell the water system to a public or private entity or for Lock Haven to move to direct ownership. If the city keeps ownership, Lock Haven Mayor Joel Long said it will have to pay an estimated $300,000 dollars to Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission every time it wants to increase rates.

Long said that money would be better spent improving the water system, and the council is leaning toward creating the joint authority.

“It's more fair representation that would remove the PUC from the picture and give us more freedom in setting the rates. But it's not even about the freedom, it's about the cost,” Long said.

In order to create a joint authority, Lock Haven would first have to dissolve its City Authority. The city council was scheduled to vote on ending the Authority at Monday’s council meeting, but postponed the vote in the face of upset residents.

“You should have all your ducks in a row before you dissolve an authority, and it appears to me that you don’t,” said one resident at the meeting.

Lock Haven residents at the meeting questioned if Castanea and Wayne Townships have interest in joining a joint authority, and if the city should dissolve its City Authority before knowing. Council member Barbara Masorti said there has only been one meeting with the two townships so far, but that it seemed positive.

The survey to collect public input on the water system options is available on the city of Lock Haven’s website until Sept. 10. The city says it will decide by September whether to pay to apply to PUC for next year.

Sydney Roach