What’s Mountain Water Co. Hiding?

by jhwygirl

They’ve got an exclusive franchise with the city to provide water. They’re pretty ineffective and managing their business – or at least that’s what they’ve been told by the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) multiple times One large example would be failing to upgrade water mains or even have a plan to do so – water mains which are over 100 years old in part of the city and which leak massive amounts of water, increasing costs for water treatment to all customers. They’ve had their wrists slapped on this more than once.

So now Mountain Water has its britches in a scritches over a recent PSC ruling that requires regulated utilities to disclose salaries of top executives.

So now I NEED to know more…and I want to thank the PSC for looking out for consumer’s interests.

Are we going to find that their salaries are ridiculous? That staff is underpaid? That water infrastructure is going to rust and rot while a handful of execs are living high on our water bill payments?

That there’s such mismanagement that the city needs to figure out how to make our water system a public service?

Because that would really suck. For them.


  1. Nick D

    On the other hand, it only takes them about 2 years to stop charging a sprinkling fee on your bill when you tell them repeatedly that your landlord already pays it for you–so they must be managing something alright.

  2. petetalbot

    My wife and I are involved in a building project and have had many dealings with the Mountain Water Company. We had to bring a water main up to our site and we’ll be paying for it over the next decade. Before launching my critique, I’d like to preface with this comment: I’ve found the local Mountain Water Company staff — from the women in the front office to the guys out in the field — to be hardworking, helpful and attentive to our problems.

    That said, the absentee California owners deserve some scrutiny. It must be nice to have a monopoly on water in a community. I’m guessing that the profits reaped must be enormous, particularly when replacing and repairing old infrastructure appears nonexistent. And I’m sure that management decisions being made down in California aren’t for the benefit of Missoula water consumers.

    It’s an interesting history (and correct me if I’m wrong) but our water company was initially owned — like most everything else in this state — by the Anaconda Company, which eventually sold it to the city. The city sold it to the Mountain Water Company during the Mayor Kemmis administration. This was a bad move but I guess we needed the money.

    We used to get most of our water from a dam up Rattlesnake Creek. And tasty water it was. A case of giardia closed that source and Mountain Water didn’t want to go to the trouble of adding filters. Now all our municipal water comes from large wells placed around town that tap into an aquifer not too far below the surface of our city. There are folks on private wells in our city, but that’s a whole other story.

    Anyway, I’m all for entrepreneurship, but when it comes to supplying the essence of life to a captive community, some accountability is in order.

    • jim

      Pete, it has been privately owned forever. During the Kemmis the city wanted to buy the water company, but the nay-sayers wouldn’t let him.

  3. If governments are going to continue to rely on private providers for once public services, I agree that we need more scrutiny into those elements of the private sector who provide them.

  4. Binky Griptight

    Of course, we could take back our municipal water supply and manage it ourselves. Why do we rely upon Californian profiteers, anyway?

  5. mr benson

    Dan Kemmis privatized the water company? That, that, capitalist tea bagger. Heh heh. Who’d have thunk it?

    Missoula’s interesting in that it lacks both a municipal garbage and municipal water utility.

    It would be even more interesting to see how Binky would “take back” the water utility. Surely you mean, “buy back”.

    Most cities have infrastructure problems with water. Many, many cities and towns have mains 100 years old. The Federal Reserve has even studied it. There’s a per capita deferred maintenance debt of $1200-$1500 for water in the US. Many small towns across the country, and in Montana, have much larger numbers. This will be exacerbated by exacting EPA standards in the future.

    Bozeman expects to spend 100 million upgrading it’s water and wastewater plants, and another 60-80 million to capture the water storage from the Mystic Lake dam which was taken out in the mid 1980s. And it’s lucky. It’s got water rights.

    For the original post; such a stupid move by Mountain Water. Not only do we all now assume they are hiding outrageous salaries, but we’re pretty sure they are hiding much more than that.

  6. Bitterfitter

    Mountain Water was originally owned by Montana Power Company , they sought to sell it to Missoula , but the powers that be , turned their noses up at the offer . After Mountain Water owned for a 10 years , The city of Missoula figured out , they could make a tidy sum off of it . Missoula county commissioners , figured they could run the water company . They also figured on cutting the wages of people working there at about 50% . Thank God a judge , ruled against this and told the city and county they should really pull their heads out of their asses.

    This comment has been edited by jhwygirl

    • Bitterfitter

      Fuck you ,jhwygirl , we all have a right to voice our opinions,. But I get it , embrace diversity , but only if your opinion is the same as mine . Yes , true queer thinking , but at least I have a pair of balls and a swinging dick . Can you say the same , without your strap ons ? yeah edit this , just kidding , I do not want what you have acquired , and I am sure I would need two bags . One for your face and one for mine , just in case your’s fell off . And as insecure as you seem to be , you will ” edit ” this also .

      • Oh no..you’re wrong with that. I’ll be leaving this gem up for all.


      • stupidity, hatred and cowardice.

        it’s a trifecta!

        • From the comment section of the Missoulian:

          interested-party said on: March 6, 2011, 10:33 pm
          Anyone that believes that the Smurfit-Stone sale replete with copious water rights to somebody calling themselves Ralston Investments operating from a storefront in Portland coming in the wake of the news that the Carlyle Group will buy Missoula-based Mountain Water needs to brush up on water law.

          Be very afraid of these developments, Missoula.

          • Our water law is screwed up, mainly because the state doesn’t seem to pay any attention to senior water rights; the legislature has either been in denial or a fascist mode approach towards correcting issues; and non-consumptive rights should be segmented into a separate category, with separate laws applicable.

            The idea that they could take those massive rights, much of which was non-consumptive, and change it to consumptive rights is ludicrous.

            Beyond that, allowing changes of use at a rate of 100% of rights doesn’t seem right.

            Smurfit now..Stimson next…then PPL..then Avista.

            There’s a nuclear bomb sitting out there for the citizens of this state, but our legislators are going to sit around until they have a noose around the neck before they’ll do anything. IF they do anything.

            Talk about job killer. Imagine the impact of the potential.

            Like you said Larry – “Be very afraid…”

        • Bitterfitter

          yes , your are right , spit that thing out , it ain’t yours , and come up for air

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