Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge Agrees To Re-Open Mountain Water Case

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler
Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.

A state judge today re-opened a case contesting whether state regulators have jurisdiction in the sale of the water system that serves the city of Missoula.

Judge Leslie Halligan did so at the request of Montana’s Public Service Commission. The case was initiated last year by the City of Missoula. At the time, the city was arguing that the PSC did not have authority to review the city’s purchase of Mountain Water Company from a private firm via condemnation.

That case was put on hold pending a state supreme court ruling. But in the meantime, another private firm announced yesterday that it has purchased Mountain Water. That Canadian firm did not seek PSC approval of the sale. The PSC says that’s never happened before.

PSC Spokesman Eric Sell says the Commission is still trying to figure out whether it’s legal for a private utility company to be sold without PSC review.

"We’re still looking into that to get an answer to that question. I think that that is kind of what we're trying to get at here with these questions we're going to be asking the participants to kind of hear their arguments on this. But we maintain our jurisdiction over the sale and transfer. We've maintained that when the city has claimed we didn't have jurisdiction, and we maintain that now. But right now we want to provide the parties process and hear their arguments on the situation."

Judge Halligan’s order says that the City of Missoula does not oppose the Public Service Commission’s request to re-open the matter. A date has not yet been set for the parties in the case to file or argue their positions.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content