Water-Related News

Hillsborough County looks at paying millions for private water utilities

TAMPA — For years, Hillsborough County commissioners have fielded complaints of dirty water and sewage backups from residents who get services from aging pipes maintained by private companies.

Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday (Aug. 7th) to explore purchasing the last of those private utilities, even as staff warned of possibly eye-popping costs that could drive up rates for all county utility customers.

County staff placed the cost to purchase the remaining seven private franchises serving just fewer than 3,700 homes in unincorporated areas at between $9.1 million and $13.7 million, which they said could fall far short of the actual costs if the companies are unwilling sellers. The hit to the county's existing 155,000 customers could reach more than $6 apiece annually, also a possible low-ball number.

But commissioners argued that there is perhaps nothing more essential that local government does for its residents than provide safe, drinkable water.