BY NANCI G. HUTSON
BROOKFIELD — Aquarion Water Co. of Bridgeport, the company that just built a water line from Silvermine Road to the Greenridge tax district neighborhood that borders Newtown, announced Thursday it intends to buy its competitor, United Water Co.
The $38 million purchase would put all Brookfield water customers under one supplier, and would add United Water customers in Bethel, Newtown, New Milford and Woodbury.
Two weeks ago, Greenridge residents were able to drink clean water from their faucets, for the first time in four years.
Aquarion’s construction of the water line was controversial because prior to state utility officials accepting Aquarion’s proposal in the fall, United Water intended to build the line.
United Water was selected by the state several years ago to be Greenridge’s water company.
Last May, United began preparations to extend a line from its existing system in Newtown. Newtown leaders, though, objected and the project was halted.
An agreement was finally reached to let United Water build the line, but Aquarion made a counter proposal last summer.
Amid the construction controversy, some town leaders and residents speculated about whether Aquarion might buy out United Water’s portion.
Aquarion also has purchased Brookfield’s two other water companies.
The United Water purchase is pending state regulatory approvals and is expected to take about six months.
“For Brookfield, it’s terrific because now we have one water company serving the entire town,” First Selectman Bill Davidson said. “We’ve come a long way in the last couple years. Now we have a unified water company that will make it so much better for municipal government to deal with water issues.”
Beyond Brookfield, Davidson said he believes this will be a good move for the region because it enables area towns to have a single, regional service with multiple water supplies.
“Aquarion has showed me that they do what they say they’re going to do,” Davidson said. “I have nothing but positives to say about this.”
In its announcement on Thursday, Aquarion company officials said its “definitive agreement” is to buy United Water, which serves 21,000 residents in Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Milford and Woodbury.
United Water will maintain its public-private partnerships with Newtown, Ridgefield and four other towns in the state.
Because Aquarion has “a large customer base in Connecticut, they can take advantage of critical mass which will help minimize future rate impacts to customers,” said Michael J. Pointing, vice president of United Water’s New York division.
Aquarion last year bought 27 new water systems in Connecticut, adding more than 10,000 customers. It now has a base of some 610,000 customers across the state.
“The acquisition of United fills a major portion of the remaining gaps in infrastructure that have long prevented people in western Connecticut from enjoying the services, reliability and efficiencies of a regional water supplier,” according to the Aquarion announcement.