The case for private ownership of water systems was strengthened recently in Pekin, Ill., when the Appellate Court of Illinois upheld the Illinois Commerce Commission's (ICC) decision that the continued ownership of the water system in Pekin by Illinois American Water was in the public's best interest.

“Illinois American Water is hopeful the City of Pekin will end this five-year debate and work together to continue to provide high quality, reliable water service to the citizens of Pekin,” says Terry Gloriod, president of Illinois American Water.

The City of Pekin could choose to appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. “Our hope is that the leaders of Pekin will end this effort now, save the taxpayers' money in legal fees and embrace a partnership for the future,” says Gloriod.

The Appellate Court's ruling rejects the city of Pekin's assertion that government ownership is in the best interest of water customers and upholds the 2004 ruling by the ICC that supported Illinois American Water. “This is a significant development for Pekin, Illinois, but it also speaks volumes about the value and contributions of privately owned and operated water systems in the United States,” Gloriod asserts. “The court found that the ICC did the right thing when it rejected the City of Pekin's request for permission to take over our system.”

In May 2002, the City of Pekin petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval to condemn Illinois American Water's Pekin District, which has served Pekin for more than 20 years. In January 2004, the ICC ruled in the company's favor.