MOSCOW — Public water will continue to flow into Moscow after officials in the Somerset County town paid almost $24,000 in fees owed the water district in neighboring Bingham.

The payment came days before the Bingham Water District was threatening to shut off water Tuesday to almost 150 customers in Moscow.

The Moscow Water District paid its bill last week, according to the Maine Rural Water Association, which oversees operation of the Bingham Water District.

The Moscow district is a customer of the Bingham Water District.

Scott Laweryson, a trustee of the Moscow Water District, said Monday his district’s biggest ratepayer, the town of Moscow, paid a hydro rental fee owed the Moscow district. That infusion of money allowed the district to then pay the Bingham Water District.

As with many communities, Moscow pays an annual hydro rental fee to its water district to ensure hydrants are working properly for fire protection.


“I’m glad that this part is behind us,” Laweryson said, “but we still need to deal with the (Public Utilities Commission).”

Earlier this month, the state PUC initiated an investigation after Bingham officials said Moscow had failed to pay its bill and ignored multiple warnings that water service would be disconnected.

The threat to shut off the water drew concern from the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, which wrote in a letter last week to the PUC that it was “dismayed” by the PUC’s apparent decision to allow the Bingham district to shut off water to Moscow.

The public advocate’s office, which represents the interests of Maine utility consumers, said the relationship between the two districts could have been addressed by a formal interconnection agreement that “should have spelled out the rights and responsibilities of the two districts.”

Such an agreement was encouraged but never created between the two districts, according to the Maine Rural Water Association, so Moscow’s district was treated like any other ratepayer of the Bingham Water District.

Messages sent to trustees of the Bingham Water District were not returned Monday.


The status of the PUC investigation is not clear in light of the payment of the bill. Susan Faloon, a spokesperson for the PUC, said previously the agency had opened the investigation March 23 “to fully investigate the acts and practices of the Moscow Water District.”

The status of the investigation “will be discussed on Wednesday and a determination made then,” Faloon said Monday.

PUC records show it had requested in March that Moscow water officials provide an explanation by April 21 for the lack of payment. That request was ignored, the PUC said.

Laweryson previously said the Moscow district was not alarmed by the threat to shut off the water, and had been working to establish its own water supply. The district was trying to secure its own water supply because the Bingham Water District might be increasing its rates in the coming months, according to Laweryson.

He said Monday a study has been conducted and officials have identified a few potential sites in town for a new water source. While Laweryson did not reveal the sites’ locations, he said the next step is to contact the landowners.

“We’d need grant money or a loan (for that project),” Laweryson said. “We feel we’re in pretty good standing now. All of our bills are paid.”

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 members in December and the former district superintendent was charged with theft.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office said the former superintendent illegally sold old district water mains to a scrap metal dealer on 21 occasions between March and October of 2021.

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