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American Water pitches privatization of Quincy water plant

American Water pitches privatization of Quincy water plant

3 years, 8 months ago by Bob Gough, QuincyJournal.com

Same company that currently handles wastewater treatment would also oversee water department

QuincyJournal.com has learned that the company that handles the management of the wastewater treatment plant for City of Quincy is pitching privatizing operations at the city’s water department.

Sources tell QuincyJournal.com meetings are scheduled over the next few days between representatives of American Water and select aldermen to see if the possibility of privatization is palatable. American Water, which bought out Environmental Management Corporation (EMC), is the company selling the idea to the city.

Alderman Paul Havermale (R-3rd Ward) said he has been approached to consider the possibility of privatization, but he has heard no details of a proposal.

“It’s going to be a hard sell unless there are big savings…guaranteed savings,” Havermale said.

In February 2010, the city renewed its contract with EMC to continue operating the city's wastewater treatment facility and sludge removal. The 5-year contract was valued at nearly $6.7 million, an average of $1.34 million a year, which is less than the $1.5 million the city was paying EMC under the previous deal.

Last year, Director of Administrative Services Gary Sparks said the city would save about $1 million over the course of the contract as EMC made concessions to keep the city’s business.

After all of the proposals were submitted last year, EMC officials were given a chance to "refine" their bid. They were asked to cap the overtime at $27,000 a year, cap a rate escalation at 2.5% and reduce the number of city employees at the wastewater treatment plant from 10 to 8. The city and EMC also split the utilities costs at the wastewater plant. Previously, the city had paid all of the utilities.

Part of EMC's contract proposal included a letter of recommendation from Quincy Mayor John Spring. EMC has been a campaign contributor to Spring.

Former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz is also involved in American Water's bid to garner more of the City’s business. Sources say Scholz is lobbying aldermen on the company's behalf.

Sparks said American Water has asked to talk to city officials about possible privatization, but the city isn't pushing the issue.

"People bring us thousands of proposals," Sparks said. "(Former Quincy Mayor) Chuck Scholz asked if I would sit down and talk with the chairman of American Water."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story did not include that American Water had bought out EMC.


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