On May 11, the Portland Water District held a public hearing where it announced that it was seeking an exemption from Public Utilities Commission regulations regarding rate increases and 21 other areas. I was one of four members of the public who spoke that night.

When it came to the Portland Water District, 2014-2015 was the winter of our discontent. The district had twice as many line breaks as it has ever had in any February.

Line breaks plagued the district and its customers throughout the winter and well into the spring, causing water service disruptions not only to its residential and commercial customers, but to fire service protection as well. The Portland Water District became the source of derision rather than water from its customers this winter.

Despite these facts, the president of the water district, Guy Cote, told those assembled that the PWD is staffed by highly trained professionals, and that the organization is well run and competently overseen. I would argue that the facts show us the exact opposite.

Statements made by Cote indicate that he is unable to face facts:

The physical plant of the Portland Water District is in poor repair.

 The district has planned poorly for maintenance and replacement of its aging lines.

 The board of trustees, who are elected to oversee the Portland Water District, have not been doing their jobs properly, if at all.

If board members had been acting as watchdogs instead of lapdogs, they would never have allowed such a petition to be filed. If anything, increased supervision by the PUC is clearly in order.

I ask that the Maine Public Utilities Commission reject this petition in its entirety and call upon the Portland Water District to get its collective act together when it comes to providing water service to its customers.

Mark Usinger