After his family has owned and operated the Hillview Water Company for 56 years, company president /CEO Roger Forrester has entered into a purchase agreement with the California subsidiary of American Water Works Company, Inc. (AWW), the largest investor-owned water and wastewater utility company in the United States, providing service to 15 million people in 1,600 communities in 45 states, and parts of Canada.
California American Water (CAW) will acquire all the operating assets of Hillview, and will officially begin providing water to 1,500 metered customer connections, after details of the transition are worked out and the California Public Utilities Commission and the State Water Board approve of the sale - a process expected to take between six months and a year.
American Water Works, with a history dating back to 1886, is headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey. The company currently has 6,800 employees.
CAW, a subsidiary of American Water, currently supplies water service to nearly 600,000 Californians, including parts of San Diego, Los Angeles County, Ventura, Monterey, and Sacramento.
Hillview and CAW officials declined to provide the sales price.
As part of the acquisition, Hillview customers will have access to AWW’s customer-friendly services such as a low-income discount program and web self-service that includes paperless billing, conservation programs designed to help customers cut water use, and free conservation tools as well as free water-wise house calls.
Director of Northern California Operations for CAW Audie Foster, said he is looking looking forward to meeting the new customers from Hillview Water Co. and welcoming them to AWW’s services.
“We are a company that gives back to the community each day by doing our part to provide the highest quality water and service possible,” Foster said in a prepared statement. “Our professionals are committed to customer service, operational excellence and the delivery of high-quality, reliable drinking water. With operations in 45 states as well as parts of Canada, we are large enough to pool tremendous expertise and financial strength.”
The AWW website says the “primary mission of American Water is to be your local, trusted water resource company dedicated to delivering innovative solutions, environmental stewardship, and community infrastructure investment. We are well positioned to meet the challenges of increasing water system reach and capacity, using precious water supplies wisely, and delivering high-quality water to the individuals and businesses that rely on us. Our company’s track record of success is attributable to our industry experience, state-of-the-art innovations in water quality and testing, ample infrastructure investment, responsive customer service, and dedication to the communities we serve. And we are more. We are scientists, environmentalists, innovators and protectors. We are caretakers of water, life’s most essential resource, and we take our role very seriously.
The president of California American Water and Hawaii American Water, both investor-owned regulated utilities, is Rich Svindland, of Rocklin. He and his team are responsible for the operation of water and wastewater systems across California and Hawaii serving about 680,000 people.
Forrester said the sale of the company is a win-win for everybody, especially the current Hillview customers.
“We are delighted we have been able to work this out with a very strong, honest, and professional company with a lot of experience, and deeper pockets than we have ever had,” Forrester said. “CAW will serve the community well.”
Years of persistence
It was more than 30 years ago that Hillview officials first realized the water they were delivering to its customers exceeded state allowable levels of iron, arsenic, uranium, and manganese that occurs naturally from hard-rock wells throughout the foothill areas of the Sierra Nevada.
The company has persisted over the years through delays, changing environmental standards, funding issues, lengthy grant processing, and customer criticism. It was just this past year the company seemed to turn the corner with a multi-million dollar improvement plan, paid in part, with Proposition 84 Safe Drinking Water and Proposition 50 Water Security grants.
The improvements, that should be finalized by early summer, include new treatment plants that will remove the minerals from the water, new storage tanks adding more than a million gallons of water to the system, and 4 1/2 miles of new piping.
56 year history of Hillview Water Co.
The Hillview Water Company first started its operations on July 6, 1961 under the name of Hillview Estates Water Company serving the Hillview Estates subdivision. On Jan. 3, 1971, Hillview was authorized to extend its service to Sunnydale subdivision in Oakhurst and on Aug. 29, 1972, authorization was granted to extend its service to Goldside Estates subdivision.
Hillview subsequently acquired existing service areas of Coarsegold Highlands on May 4, 1976, Sierra Lakes, Royal Oaks – Hidden Oaks subdivisions, and the town of Raymond on June 29, 1976. On September 28, 1978, the Hillview Water Company incorporated.
By 1984 the areas of Oakhurst, Royal Oaks, Sunnydale, and Sierra Lakes were interconnected to form one operating system.
On July 1, 1991, the California Public Utilities Commission approved further additions to the Oakhurst – Sierra Lakes Lakes service area including Quail Meadow Villages, 425B Mobile Home Park, additional areas on both sides of Highway 41 north of Oakhurst, and Yosemite High School.
The company was owned and operated by Linton Forrester until Dec. 1981 when his son Roger purchased a majority interest. Roger managed the company until February 2007, when Jim Foster was hired to manage the public water utility. Roger remains president and Chairman of the Board of Directors.
The present operation consists of four separate domestic water operating systems: Oakhurst-Sierra Lakes, Hillview-Goldside, Raymond, and Coarsegold Highlands.