State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160 of Upper Chichester, recently confirmed the latest rumors surrounding the potential sale of the Chester Water Authority. In a June 27 Facebook post opposing a sale of the authority, Barrar stated he was prompted to take the public stance due to many inquiries about possible legislation to expand the number of CWA board members from the city of Chester.
The CWA Board of Directors is currently made up of three from the city, appointed by Chester City Council; three from Delaware County municipalities outside of the city, appointed by Delaware County Council; and three from Chester County, appointed by Chester County Commissioners.
“I heard there was a rumor that language was going to be put in the administrative code bill that would put six additional seats on the board for Chester,” Barrar told the Times by phone Monday.
The additional six members from Chester would ostensibly tip a CWA board vote in favor of a potential sale of authority assets.
Barrar then reiterated the narrative from his June 27 Facebook post, which stated: “Immediately, I had a conversation with the House Majority Leader to see if this was true. He confirmed there was attempt to add this language… After I explained my position on the bill, he agreed with me that this was a bad provision, and he would make sure it was not adopted into the code legislation.”
Barrar referred to the CWA as a “well-run utility” and said “their rates have always been reasonable.”
Staff members at both the Harrisburg office and Brookhaven district office of state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, told the Times the week of June 27 that they had received calls regarding the rumors.
“We have not seen any language; Sen. Killion hasn’t been involved in this in any way,” Killion Chief of Staff Shannon Royer told the Times Wednesday during a follow-up call. “We did hear rumors last week when the code bills were being discussed – there was language that Republican and Democratic legislators talked about with the governor’s office.”
“We’re curious as to where it came from, who was it, and who drafted it,” CWA Solicitor Francis J. Catania said by phone Thursday. “(Barrar) stopped the legislation from advancing; he came through in a big way for his constituents,” he said.
Catania said that Barrar has so far been the only legislator representing Delaware County CWA ratepayers to publicly support the authority and oppose a sale. He said that CWA has received public support from Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester/Lancaster, and Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester.
Meanwhile, CWA is awaiting the July 15 deadline of its request for qualifications for investigative services into the volume of documents it has received under the Right to Know Law. Catania said the RFQ has now been issued to universities, environmental groups, and lawyers specializing in the Right to Know Law.“It should almost be labelled a connect-the-dots project – we just need help connecting all the dots because there’s so much information and interconnections,” Catania said. CWA has received a “library of documents,” according to Catania, in Right to Know filings over two years. The requests have primarily dealt with communication between the City of Chester’s Act 47 coordinators, the state Department of Community and Economic Development and for-profit utility companies regarding the proposed sale of the authority.