MOSCOW — State regulators in a filing Tuesday said the Moscow Water District failed to comply with an order requesting an explanation for why it failed to pay nearly $24,000 owed to the water district in neighboring Bingham.

The Moscow district, which is a customer of the Bingham Water District, is being investigated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission after Bingham officials argued earlier that Moscow has failed to pay its water bill and ignored multiple warnings that water service will be discontinued.

Moscow officials say they are not alarmed by the threat to shut off the town’s water and they have been working to establish their own water supply in town instead. The Bingham district has approximately 150 customers in Moscow, a town of about 500 residents.

Moscow is the second water district in Somerset County to have drawn the attention of investigators in recent months. The Anson-Madison Water District dismissed its staff in December and the former district superintendent was charged with theft. The sheriff’s office said he illegally sold old district water mains to a scrap metal dealer on 21 occasions between March and October of last year.

The PUC filing outlines an attempt made on March 24 by the state agency to issue the Moscow Water District a notice of the investigation and a disconnection warning. In the notice, the PUC requested that Moscow “answer a series of questions and file certain specified information” no later than April 21, a request that was ignored, according to the filing.

The Bingham district issued another disconnection warning Monday and said Moscow owes about $23,800, the filing said. The Bingham district contracts with the Maine Rural Water Association to manage its operations.

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An investigation was conducted last year following a billing dispute between the two districts and concluded Nov. 15 when the PUC’s Consumer Assistance and Safety Division sided with Bingham and determined that it “was permitted to issue a make-up bill” to Moscow for $3,000.

Scott Laweryson, chairman of the Moscow district’s board of trustees, said Tuesday that issues with not making payments stemmed from a recent rate increase by the Bingham district after the PUC OK’d an emergency increase.

“There was no public hearing on (the rate increase),” Laweryson said. “We have been in contact with the PUC, they’re in the midst of an investigation into our funds to help give us an emergency rate increase also.”

The PUC said in the filing it “has concerns as to whether the customers and resources of the Moscow Water District are being adequately protected from harm in accordance with all applicable and legal standards.”

As a result, Moscow must provide district records by May 17.

“Why the people that are running Bingham (Water District) now are making such a big deal about this toward us, I’m not quite sure why,” Laweryson said. “There’s been some dissension between us for some prior billing mistakes that they made. We don’t feel we’ve really done anything wrong, we’re doing the best we can to work with them.”

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Laweryson said he’s not concerned that water to customers in Moscow may be shut off. Moscow First Selectman Donald Beane echoed similar thoughts. Trustees in Moscow are chosen by the town’s three selectmen.

“We are already paying more than (Bingham customers) to begin with,” Beane said. “And we just don’t have that much money. I’m not sure what they’re going to do, one of the options would be to raise our rates, but it is quite a lot.”

Laweryson said Moscow’s district is making plans to establish its own water source.

“We’ve already contracted an engineering company to do a geological survey for us, which has been completed and we’re in the steps and process of drilling our own well and having our own water source,” Laweryson said.

He said the geological study revealed “some very favorable sites.”

A message sent to the district board of trustees in Bingham for comment was not answered Tuesday.

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