The Local Government Utilities Assistance Program is established in the department. The department may award financial assistance to a local government in the form of a grant for the purpose of acquiring privately owned water-wastewater utilities. A local government may qualify for financial assistance if the local government documents to the department that the privately owned water-wastewater utility the local government intends to acquire meets the following criteria:
(1) The quality of water or wastewater service provided by the privately owned water-wastewater utility is consistently inadequate to meet public health or water quality standards.
(2)(a) The privately owned water-wastewater utility cannot make the improvements necessary to alleviate the public health or water quality threats through its own resources without increasing its rates for services to an amount beyond that which is commensurate with community standards;
(b) Operation of the privately owned water-wastewater utility represents a public health or water quality threat that would be more effectively addressed through public management or ownership, as demonstrated through a feasibility determination provided by the applicant for financial assistance to the department, that takes into account economic, managerial, and administrative considerations; or
(c) The private utility desires to sell.