Safety, Agriculture, Villages & Environment
Watching out for our community
S.A.V.E is monitoring efforts by government agencies and private entities that would force a sale of the Chester Water Authority.
The Chester Water Authority (CWA) provides public water to more than 43,000 customers who reside in southern Chester County, western Delaware County, and the City of Chester. They also supply water to additional customers through the resale of water to neighboring water utilities in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In May of 2017, there was an unsolicited attempt by Aqua America to purchase the Chester Water Authority. Fortunately, the CWA board voted against the sale, but the efforts to take over the CWA are not over.
The assets of the CWA have been targeted for monetization as part of a financial Recovery Plan for the City of Chester. This move by the state would replace a well managed water authority and open the door for a purchase by Aqua America with their incentive to promote development and expand their customer base. This should be of concern to all CWA ratepayers, including 7,284 from southern Chester County, as well as to the entire conservation minded community.
In October of 2021, the Chester City Council and the Mayor voted to enter into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Aqua PA. The matter is in the hands of the City's current Receiver, Michael Doweary, who had the now-public exchange with Aqua’s attorney. Econsult Solutions, Inc, the previous Recovery Coordinator appointed by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, included the monetization of CWA assets in the City of Chester’s Act 47 Exit Plan. This position was supported by a letter from Governor Tom Wolf’s Chief Counsel.
There is a state-wide effort to privatize these municipal authorities. This may be appropriate in some cases, but not in the case of the CWA. The CWA had been working with the City of Chester on this proposed settlement to prevent a forced sale. In April of 2019, the Chester Water Authority filed a petition in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas to transfer some or all of their assets into a trust. Aqua Pennsylvania filed a complaint with the same Delaware County Court to block the pending agreement that CWA has with the City of Chester. In June of 2019, the City of Chester Council passed a resolution to pursue monetizing the assets of the CWA and put out a Request for Proposals from potential buyers. Several cases are being argued in court, as the CWA attempts to defend itself from this hostile takeover. See the following opening records response for details on these interactions.