A critical ruling by Missoula District Judge Karen Townsend removed the necessity for the City of Missoula to go to trial over the valuation of the Mountain Water Company

Mayor John Engen said that because Judge Townsend ruled that several developers who were owed between $22 and $24 million by Mountain Water for installation of water mains in new developments could be represented at trial, the city decided the trial was unnecessary.

"We elected to withdraw our appeal of the commissioners' valuation," Engen said. "We originally appealed that valuation based on our concerns that developers and other local folks may have extended money for infrastructure, and were owed for that infrastructure might be left out in the cold. Judge Townsend, through an order this week, clarified that for us. We believe we're ready to move forward based on the commissioners' value and let Judge Townsend continue to do the work that she's done over time in helping us through this process."

Mountain Water and attorneys for the Carlyle Group filed an  appeal in 2015 with the Montana Supreme Court challenging the necessity of the city in owning the water delivery system, rather than ownership being retained by a private company. City Attorney Jim Nugent said that decision could be the trigger to make the dominoes fall and allow the city to declare victory in its effort to force the sale of Mountain Water.

"I think the necessity ruling when made by the Supreme Court in favor of the city is likely going to be the final ruling that will be necessary for allowing the city to move forward and implement the water commissioners' award  and any final numbers that have to be worked out by the court," Nugent said.

The valuation of Mountain Water and its assets was set at $88 million in a recent hearing.