New Jersey company to buy Meadowbrook Water

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comApril 28, 2014 

A nearly 60-year-old family-owned water district in the Merced area is on its way to becoming a piece of a much larger pool.

California American Water entered into an agreement to acquire Meadowbrook Water Co., which provides water to more than 6,500 people in the Franklin-Beachwood area. The deal is not final and must be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. The purchase price was not available.

California American Water already has about 600,000 customers in the state, including about 60,000 in Sacramento. The company is based in Coronado but is headquartered in New Jersey.

“As a result of this transition, Meadowbrook customers would have access to expanded customer services,” said S. Audie Foster, California American Water’s director of Northern California operations.

The larger company offers a number of services that were not part of the much smaller Meadowbrook’s repertoire: a 24-hour customer service center, self-service online, paperless billing, conservation and water efficiency programs and rebates, as well as a low-income assistance program.

Evan Jacobs, a spokesman for California American Water, said the company has no plans to change the Meadowbrook staff. The water district has five employees.

Meadowbrook has about 1,650 connections and sends water primarily to residential customers, but it also provides service to about 50 others, including businesses and schools.

In a statement, Meadowbrook Chief Executive Officer David Walker said the sale is a “positive step to securing long-term, quality service” for the district’s customers.

Meadowbrook and California American Water expect to file an application to the Public Utilities Commission in the fall. The transfer is expected to be complete in spring 2017, officials said.

Meadowbrook Operations Manager Connie Farris said the company has been providing water in the area since 1955. She said Walker decided to sell the company because he is approaching retirement.

Farris said getting approval from the PUC can be a lengthy process, possibly longer than two years. Residents in the water district should not see any change in where and how they pay their water bills in the meantime, she said.

Two other companies looked at purchasing Meadowbrook, Farris said, but management decided to seek the agreement with California American Water. “These guys look like they will do the most for the customers in this area,” she said. “We want everybody to be happy about it.”

Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, according to a news release. The company employs about 6,700 people who provide drinking water, wastewater and other services to an estimated 14 million people in more than 30 states and parts of Canada. For more on the company, go to www.amwater.com.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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