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Artesian buys Frankford’s water system for $3.6M

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Artesian Water Co. has acquired the Frankford municipal water system in a $3.6 million deal. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTESIAN

FRANKFORD – Artesian Water Co. has officially acquired the water system of the Sussex County town of Frankford in a $3.6 million deal.

The town council of Frankford, located about 5 miles from the Maryland border off Route 113, approved the deal in March, but closing of the sale agreement was delayed until April 2 due to the coronavirus’s impact. The water system serves about 350 town customers.

As part of the sale agreement, Artesian will invest an estimated $6 million in regional water mains, construct a new regional water plant, and expand its main renewal program to incorporate Frankford while spending about $1 million on renewal projects in Frankford over the next five years.

The publicly traded company will also upgrade the communications systems at the Frankford water treatment plant at an estimated cost of $70,000 and replace all town water meters at an estimated cost of $500,000.

Artesian has invested about $44 million over the past three years in water and wastewater infrastructure in Sussex County, which the company views as a growth area as it competes with four other private utilities. It plans on creating a regional water system served by four treatment plants, including a 2-million-gallon-a-day Greater Dagsboro Water Treatment Plant currently under construction.

Over 7 miles of new water main will be constructed in the regional system, interconnecting the towns of South Bethany, Frankford and Dagsboro, covering 20 square miles of service territory and serving nearly 6,000 customers.

“Artesian’s investments in Sussex County and securing this latest acquisition has positioned us to continue to expand our service territory, interconnecting this larger regional area with high quality and reliable water service,” said Dian C. Taylor, president and CEO of Artesian Resources Co., said in a statement announcing the acquisition.

The 115-year-old Artesian supplies 8.3 billion gallons of water per year through 1,331 miles of water main to nearly a third of Delaware residents. It hasn’t only targeted Sussex County in recent years, but also expanded in southern New Castle County and neighboring Cecil County, Md.

On Monday, Artestian’s stock rose 2% as news of the acquisition spread, but it shed those gains during a market slump Tuesday.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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