Public Hearing with Punkin Water Association to see results by end of year

Published 10:34 am Friday, August 21, 2020

The Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District Brandon Presley has ordered that problems within Punkin Water Association need to be fixed by the end of the year.

The PSC held a public hearing on Thursday via teleconference regarding Punkin Water Association and several key issues were raised to the PSC by customers including poor water quality and higher than normal water bills.

“Our goal is to reach the best possible solution for customers,” Presley said. “To be truthful there is a problem with a lack of communication that has led us to discuss these issues. This is ridiculous. There should be better communication. Open and clear communication. I should never be contacted about not posting minutes.”

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During the meeting, customers had the chance to voice concerns or questions that they had. Many spoke their concerns about PWA’s flushing system and how much their water bill has gone up.

Attorney Mark Woods spoke on the behalf of the PWA board and confessed that the design of PWA’s system might not allow for flushing at every tap. He also mentioned that Punkin Water Association was a nonprofit with board members who do not work at PWA full time and many of them had full-time jobs. 

The meeting that was held on Thursday was not the first one held by the PSC in regards to Punkin Water Associaton.

In April 2018, the PSC held a public meeting where residents that received water from the Punkin Water Association voiced their concerns about water quality and poor management.

Punkin Water Association was required to make several changes to the existing wells to improve them. They were also required to be more transparent and to have a plan in place to flush all lines.

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors placed a moratorium on new development in PWA’s service area until changes were made. This included PWA entering an agreement with the city of Oxford to purchase up to 250,000 gallons of water daily via a master meter connection that PWA was building.

On October 15, 2019, Oxford’s Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to sell water to Punkin Water Association.

The contract is for a five-year term and said that PWA must ensure they will be able to connect to the City’s supply lines by building required items at their own cost. The City will be responsible for reading the meter on a regular basis so as to provide an accurate calculation of the number of gallons purchased each month. The City is also responsible for repairing and maintaining the meters.

The moratorium was then lifted in November of last year when the quality and pressure seemed to improve. However, recently, customers of PWA have contacted the PSC with claims of poor water quality and higher than normal water bills.

After the three hour meeting, Presley was appalled that the board had not done a rate study of their water and that they based the rate on Saltillo’s water association. He ordered that Punkin Water Association and their engineer certify a flushing plan to elevate dirty water and that they fix most of the problems that they have by the end of the year.

“I’m surprised that the board doesn’t know how much water is being pumped, metered, sold, and lost,” he said.