Many Gold Canyon residents had the same thing to say about their sewer and the way the sewer has been managed — it stinks.
Canada-based sewer provider Algonquin Power Income Fund will ask the Arizona Corporation Commission on Sept. 13 for a rate increase that would double Gold Canyon residents’ current monthly bill, bringing it to about $75.
But after Algonquin purchased the Gold Canyon facility in 2001, then-Algonquin spokesman Trevor Hill promised residents their rates wouldn’t increase. Despite the $10 million his company was forced to spend on improvements, Hill said the monthly rate would stay at $37.
Hill and Algonquin parted ways shortly after he made the promise.
“That person is no longer with us,” said Kelly Castledine, an Algonquin spokeswoman. “He misspoke, but unfortunately we can’t go back and retract his statement.”
Algonquin, a publiclytraded company, has an obligation to its stockholders, Castledine said. The company needs to double its rates in order to provide investors a return. She added that when Algonquin purchased the Gold Canyon facility, it had to spend $10 million to comply with an order from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to control the noise and smell, and to improve the quality of treated water.
“It’s not like we decided it had to be done; it was regulated,” she said. “We’re not being greedy.”
The Algonquin announcement of the proposed rate hike was met with outrage by many of the more than 4,100 customers it serves, such as Gold Canyon resident Ron Kelly, 74, who said the company is going back on its word. He added the sewer plant is still noisy, despite Algonquin’s multimilliondollar investment, and the stink still reaches his Mountain Brook home.
“I’m one that complains often,” he said. “But I’m one that smells often.”
Gold Canyon residents will be able to present their concerns to the corporation commission. Community advocates said they expect more than 500 people. Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith said corporation commission attorneys will need to decide if Algonquin’s broken promise was legally binding, but the facility does stink sometimes.
“On certain days, there’s still an odor problem,” she said. “Citizens have the right to feel they haven’t been told the truth.”