Saturday, May 28, 2022

Punkin Water Association in Talks with Oxford for Potential Transfer of Ownership

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

Residents who receive water from the Punkin Water Association may one day be writing their checks out to a new provider – the city of Oxford.

Last week, PWA customers received an email that the PWA board was actively engaged with the city of Oxford to potentially transfer ownership of the association to the city of Oxford.

“We believe this is the best course for water costs and provision of new water,” the message stated.

Oxford Utilities General Manager Rob Neely and City Chief of Operations Bart Robinson both confirmed the city and PWA board members have been having such conversations in recent weeks.

According to Robinson, a transfer agreement could be considered by the Oxford Board of Aldermen in the near future; however, even if the Board of Aldermen approves the agreement, there is still a lot of work to be done before the city can take ownership.

“If the transfer agreement is approved by the city and Punkin, it is the first step in a long process which will require action from the Mississippi Legislature, Mississippi Department of Health approval and Mississippi Public Service Commission approval,” Robinson told Hotty Toddy News Wednesday.

Residents receiving water from PWA have been issuing complaints to the PSC for several years over the quality of the water and poor management of the water association. Customers often complain about discoloration of their water and having to replace water filters almost weekly.

In the last few years, there have been several meetings and hearings between PWA, its customers and Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who ordered PWA in 2018 to work on improving the water quality and become more transparent with its customers.

The PWA was looking into purchasing water from Oxford three years ago but announced in August 2021 that it was not financially feasible for the water association to purchase from Oxford.

Representatives from the PWA could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Max Hill, a customer of the PWA, said he hopes the arrangement takes place.

“As a member, this appears to be the best and most logical solution to the issues of water quality and system capacity that the Punkin water utility has faced and continues to face,” Hill said. “Finally we can expect clean, drinkable water to come from our taps at a cost that is affordable to all members.”