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As Hamilton’s private wastewater treatment operator was grooming itself for a corporate takeover, it was also getting the bill for sewage-related fines.

Azurix North America has been fined $201,600 for releasing inadequately treated sewage from two plants as well as two sewage spills. The company pleaded guilty to the charges, though most of the incidents happened while the previous private operator, Philip Utilities, was at the switch.

Azurix North America’s president told the media it was coincidental that his company had chosen to clean up their act as corporate suitors were eyeing the operation. Later the same month, Azurix was sold to US giant American Water Works. Hot on the heels of that sale, German multinational RWE bought American Water Works, giving Hamilton residents their fourth private operator of a troubled system.

Azurix – or whoever’s in charge today – still faces trial, after pleading not guilty to two charges of having unlicensed operators. The City of Hamilton and the city’s manager of water quality have also been charged with sewage spills that happened during maintenance in 1999.