The County of Los Angeles Superior Court (“the Court”) issued its final decision December 9, 2016, rejecting the City of Claremont’s (the “City”) attempt to seize the Claremont water system by eminent domain in a legal case between Golden State Water Company (“GSWC”) and the City. In December 2014, the City initiated legal action to acquire the water system by filing a complaint against GSWC. The trial to determine the City’s right to seize the water system by eminent domain concluded in August 2016. GSWC serves approximately 11,000 customers in Claremont.
Among the many conclusions made by the Court in its 41-page decision was recognition of GSWC’s excellent record of water quality and service reliability. The decision stated, “The Court will dismiss the complaint because Golden State has proven that the City’s plans for operation of the Claremont water system do not provide adequate assurance that it will maintain water quality, safety and reliability in the Claremont service area at the level now provided by Golden State.”
Commenting on the final decision, Robert J. Sprowls, GSWC President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Since 1929, Golden State Water has provided high-quality water to residents and businesses in the City of Claremont, so we were pleased that when the facts were considered, the judge ruled in our favor,” said Sprowls. “From the outset of the trial, we have maintained that the City’s claims were without merit and continued to demonstrate that Golden State Water has operated transparently and in the best interest of the community. We look forward to continue serving this community like we’ve done for over eight decades, and are equally committed to being a strong community partner in its future,” Sprowls continued.
The California Water Association, in its statement, said, “The Court’s decision is a victory for the public interest and common sense. Takeover advocates promise lower rates and cost savings when encouraging local governments to attempt an eminent domain takeover of a privately owned, regulated public water utility. In this case, those promises turned out to be false, and the Court’s decision affirms that sound public policy should side with the professional water utilities best positioned to provide safe, reliable drinking water service to local communities.”
“Investor-owned water utilities have a long track record of providing reliable, high-quality water at a reasonable cost with top-notch customer service. Many have served California communities for generations and have been strong leaders in the effort to conserve during the drought. This is a proud legacy that CWA looks forward to continuing.”