Stockton's water and sewer operations will return to public control, after the city council voted Tuesday to drop its appeal of a judge's ruling against its $600 million deal to privatize the system.
A San Joaquin County judge ruled in November that the city's 20-year privatization deal was illegal because it failed to conduct a required environmental review first.
Environmental and community groups had sued the city, claiming that the system's operator, OMI-Thames Water Stockton Inc., poorly maintained facilities that were causing sewage spills. The deal with OMI-Thames, a joint venture of American and British firms, was the largest water contract of its kind west of the Mississippi.
City leaders had vowed to fight Judge Elizabeth Humphreys' decision, saying the city was only required to review individual construction projects.
But the city council voted unanimously late Tuesday to withdraw the appeal and comply with the judge's order for the city to take over management of the utilities. Under a settlement with plaintiffs, Stockton would regain control in March 1, 2008.
Plaintiffs hailed the vote.
"We are delighted that the city has agreed that the people should have control over their water supply," Sylvia Kothe, chair of the Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton, said in a statement.
Source Mercury News