Missoula Mayor John Engen received a letter on Wednesday from the Carlyle Group informing the city that Park Water, of which Mountain Water is a subsidiary, is officially for sale.

"We've always assumed that the company would be for sale, and in fairly short order," Engen said. "Everything we've done has been all about positioning ourselves to be the next buyer. We think local ownership is imperative, and that whoever the next owner is will be much like Carlyle, with out of state investors where all they care about is the bottom line. They're not going to operate the system for the benefit of the people the way the city can."

Engen said the legal process towards condemnation will continue until the company accepts Missoula's offer to purchase the system.

"I hope that we can negotiate, but until we can get there, we're going to continue down the path that leads us to ownership," Engen said. "We wanted to be ready when the opportunity for ownership came along, and we are, and I'm tickled about that. We'll continue to work all the angles. Now, I can't say when a deal will be done, but we'd love to have one done sooner than later."

The letter says the Carlyle Group was obligated to notify the city of Missoula under an agreement made in 2011 to inform the city of any sale.

Missoula Mayor John Engen