Montana Public Radio

John Engen

Eric Whitney

Missoula Mayor John Engen says he understands Algonquin's intent in buying Mountain Water, but he's not convinced the company can actually buy it, given the city's attempts to take ownership by condemnation from The Carlyle Group. Engen spoke at a press conference in his office this morning after meeting with Algonquin's CEO.

Danny Dauterive

Montana Public Radio’s Edward O’Brien sat down with Algonquin Power and Utilities CEO Ian Robertson. Robertson says "we would like to be part of the Montana utility landscape forever."

Edward O'Brien

It looks like Missoula's city water system could be sold to a Canadian company.

Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities, has reached an agreement with The Carlyle Group, which currently owns Missoula's water system.

Algonquin is expected to pay an estimated $327 million for Missoula's system and three other utilities. That price includes assumption of about $77 million of existing long-term debt.

Montana Dignitaries Break Ground On Missoula College Site

Aug 22, 2014
Christopher Allen

On a blustery, rainy afternoon, several Montana dignitaries gathered just offshore of the Clark Fork River today to officially break ground on construction of the Missoula College’s new site.

Officials expect construction of the $32 million project to last about two years, after nearly eight years of planning and some controversy. College officials considered several other sites, including the 90-year-old university golf course, before funding complications and public protest forced them to look elsewhere.

Missoula and the southern California town of Apple Valley are separated by over 11-hundred miles, but both have at least one thing in common; officials from both towns want their local water systems under public ownership.

Leaders from both communities met earlier this week in Missoula to discuss ways to do just that.

Apple Valley's water system is owned and operated by Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. In Missoula, it's Mountain Water Company.

Edward O'Brien

A second grade exercise in persuasive letter writing led to an official reminder from Missoula authorities today: leash your dogs and - oh yeah - don't forget to pick up their poop, too.

Edward O'Brien has more:

Sally Mauk

The city of Missoula has filed to obtain its privately owned water system through eminent domain. The complaint was filed in District Court. The city has been trying to negotiate a purchase of the Mountain Water company from its owner, the Carlyle Group, but has not been able to reach agreement. Missoula is the only major Montana city not to own its water system, and Mayor John Engen says it's in the public's best interest to control its water. He says the current owner is only interested in profit and has not been a good steward of the water system.

State lawmakers are asking what rights local governments have to charge fees to megaload shipments moving through Montana cities and towns.

These vehicles carry enormous pieces of equipment, blocking traffic as they haul their freight often to the tar sands of Canada or the Bakken oil patch.

The legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim committee inquired into the fees Tuesday.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says the city of Missoula began charging them a few years ago. 

Courtesy photo

A public hearing will be held later this month before the Missoula City Council on a proposed ordinance that would give Mayor John Engen authority to open negotiations with The Carlyle Group to purchase Mountain Water Company.

Carlyle, a global alternative asset manager, purchased Mountain Water about two years ago, with the stipulation the city of Missoula would get the first shot at buying the utility if it ever went up for sale.

In this feature interview with Edward O'Brien, Engen explains why he thinks it's important to pursue this discussion - and why now.

City of Missoula

When it comes to fireworks there doesn't seem to be lots of middle ground; you either love them or would be quite pleased if you never heard or saw one again in your life.

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