York City completes deal to sell wastewater system

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Pennsylvania American Water completed a deal Friday to acquire York City's wastewater system.

The York City system serves 45,000 customer connections, including some 14,000 customers in the city and several neighboring communities. Pennsylvania's Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the sale in April.

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Over the next five years, Pennsylvania American Water plans to invest approximately $17.5 million in York wastewater system improvements, the company said in a statement. That includes control system upgrades and wastewater main rehabilitation projects.

With the acquisition of the York City system, Pennsylvania American Water will be the wastewater service provider for more than 220,000 customers across the state.

The City of York's wastewater treatment plant.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

When initially proposed, the wastewater sale saw pushback from the York Area Regional Sewer Authority. West Manchester Township along with Manchester, Spring Garden and York townships and North York borough had filed a protest with the PUC.

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A settlement agreement reached between the authority and York City included added flexibility for municipalities: If the PUC changes the contractual rate, those municipalities will have the ability to seek alternative — and potentially less expensive — treatment options for wastewater.

With the acquisition, Pennsylvania American Water has also agreed to keep 23 of the system’s employees. 

“This is a transformative moment for the City of York,” said York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said in a written statement. “Today is the start of a new day for our city. With this sale now complete, we can clear all of York’s long-standing debts and build a nest egg for the city’s long-term fiscal health. For our residents and businesses who are proud to call York home, this sale brings stability and hope for our future.”

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The PUC approved the $235.3 million purchase on April 14. As part of the PUC’s approval, Pennsylvania American Water will adopt the existing City of York wastewater rates for three years and will continue billing customers on a monthly basis.

Any future rate changes have to be approved by the PUC. The rates for neighboring municipalities will also remain in place for three years.

— Reach Anthony Maenza at amaenza@yorkdispatch.com or @atmaenza on Twitter.