Round Two:
Atlanta to Privatize Wastewater Treatment Facility

...and there will be some changes made
from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Within weeks, Atlanta officials and their consultants will begin to structure the city's second major effort at privatization.

And the chairwoman of the Atlanta City Council's City Utilities Committee wants some changes this time around.

Committee Chairwoman Clair Muller, who was at odds with the administration throughout the privatization of the water system, said she hopes the deal that will turn over the city's R.M. Clayton Wastewater Treatment Plant to a private operator will be less controversial.

"I think this needs to be a different process," Muller said.

The city's consultant for the 1998 privatization of its water system, Brown and Caldwell, will be hired to devise the bid solicitation and oversee the bidding process, under a proposal the City Utilities Committee of Atlanta City Council is considering. This year, the city plans to contract with a private company to operate its R.M. Clayton plant. Two other city waste water plants, Utoy Creek and South River, will continue to be operated by the city after the privatization of R.M. Clayton, the largest of the three plants, and a streamlining initiative in the rest of the waste water system. The proposal also includes almost $900,000 for Brown and Caldwell to oversee services on the water contract now in place.

A resolution amending the Brown and Caldwell contract with the city was among the committee's agenda Tuesday, but committee members agreed to discuss the contract further before taking a vote in April.

The privatization effort began this week because the city was waiting for the General Assembly to approve a bill allowing waste water privatization contracts to extend for as long as 20 years. Before the bill was approved on March 17, such contracts were limited to five years.

Tailoring the bid solicitation for R.M. Clayton will take about two months, according to John Salo, senior vice president of Brown and Caldwell.

Salo said the privatization and streamlining of the city's wastewater operations should save Atlanta's water and sewer fund about $15 million per year, in addition to the $20 million the city saved from privatizing the water system. City officials are counting on the savings to help pay for a massive overhaul of its sewer and water system mandated by the state and a federal consent order.

R.M. Clayton handles a little more than half of the 155 million gallons of sewage that flow from Atlanta daily. The plant not only treats waste water from the city, but also from portions of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties.

The city is now working on a $307 million expansion of R.M. Clayton that will add 11 acres and significant treatment capacity to the plant.

Atlanta Privatization Competition Will Be Fierce

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