The City of Missoula is collaborating with Apple Valley, California, in that both cities are attempting to purchase their municipal water systems from Carlyle Infrastructure Partners.

Mayor John Engen said the representatives from Apple Valley spent all day Monday in Missoula, and the primary concern with their water company was a steep increase in rates to consumers.

"Apple Valley is experiencing requests for rate increases from Carlyle to the tune of 35.1 percent over the next three years," Engen said. "That's the request currently before the California Water Commission. While the rate increases here aren't anywhere near that drastic, it's the same company and we have many of the same concerns."

Engen said Apple Valley's Town Manager's own water bill has increased dramatically, leading to the town's effort to acquire the system.

"The Town Manager of Apple Valley, Frank Robinson, said his water bill over the last two months has exceeded $600," Engen said. "Here in Missoula, the average residential water bill is about $100, with higher bills in summer for sprinkling."

Engen said both communities are interested in owning their municipal water systems on a permanent basis, not simply as a commodity to buy and sell.

"What we hope is that all parties will understand that these two communities have a considerable stake in their water systems and are not likely to be very interested in another transaction that leaves customers and citizens holding the bag."

Missoula's condemnation lawsuit is scheduled for trial in March of 2015.

Missoula Mayor John Engen