USFilter quietly folds its New Orleans tent
Saturday August 16, 2003
By Martha Carr,
Bruce Eggler, Staff writers
One company has packed up and moved out. Another hasn't appeared around town in a year and
a half. And now a third has closed its downtown office and moved its point man to a home
office in Lakeview.
Could the city's privatization drive be headed for the big flush?
Don't count on it, said officials with USFilter, which recently shuttered its Carondelet
Street office and instructed David Smith, vice president in charge of the New Orleans
project, to work out of his home.
USFilter remains committed to submitting a bid to run the city's water and sewer systems.
The company is simply trying to cut costs while it waits for the Sewerage & Water
Board to finalize the bid specifications, spokesman Scott Edwards said.
"All we are talking about is one guy and a secretary working at one office, moving
into his house," said Edwards, who noted that Smith has always had a home office and
that USFilter has several other offices in the metro area. "It's a simple matter of
having office space we don't need. This doesn't relate in any material way to our
Since late 2000, the California-based company has spent more than $3.5 million in the
hopes of landing the 20-year, roughly $1.5 billion contract, Edwards said. In recent
months, however, it has scaled back its spending by eliminating the 2,500-square-foot
office and putting its team of local
consultants on hold.
USFilter is also waiting to see if other companies get involved, Smith said. Last month,
the water board voted to kill the process if only one private company responds to the
request for proposals once it's issued.
Meanwhile, "USFilter continues its holding pattern," Edwards said.