Water Industry News
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
only one to seek Massachusetts water and sewer systems
LEE -- Texas-based Veolia Water
North America submitted the only proposal to privatize the town's
sewer and water systems.
According to Town Manager Robert
Nason, Veolia is the only company that has sent a response to the
town's request for proposals.
The town is trying to sort out the
financial options between privatizing its sewer and water systems
and simply bidding it out and building it with town funds.
Nason said the town will set a date
for a public hearing, as well as a special town meeting to vote on
Nason said he turned over the
documents to the town's Privatization Non-Price Committee and its
Privatization Price Committee. The Non-Price Committee is charged
with examining the qualifications, business plan and fiscal
soundness. The Price Committee, he said, will examine the proposal
by Veolia Water, "to see if what they have to offer us makes
Nason said it was "too soon to
tell" whether or not having just one company present a
proposal would doom the plan.
"We're running out of
time," he added. "We don't really have any time to start
this process all over again. If this doesn't meet our needs, we
may just have to resort to a traditional design, bid and build
The town has been looking into a
privatization model for several years. The plan would be to hire a
company and negotiate a contract to operate the water and sewer
Opponents believe that, while there
may be some operational savings, a private company will be taking
a more bottom-line approach than a town-owned and operated plant.
Many residents have expressed concerns that maintaining
consistent, quality service would be difficult with a private
Perhaps most disturbing to many
residents is the fact that the town's Department of Public Works
workers would be under a different umbrella. Workers in the DPW
argue that there is no way to ensure they would get the same
health and retirement benefits as municipal employees of the town.
There is also some discussion that
a for-profit entity would have no compulsion to retain the entire
work force currently under contract with Lee.
Nason and other town officials
believe that similar benefits and tenure can be built into any
contract with the private entity.