Earth Tech and USFilter neck-and-neck in bid for con-ops of 5 employee Illinois facility

By JOHN REZANKA — News Reporter

Streator, Illinois councilman Siobhan Elias requested Monday that the city allow Earth Tech, a company with expertise in the wastewater treatment industry, to submit another bid to operate Streator’s plant.

Elias observed that while USFilter, the current operator, submitted the low bid for the project, the difference between the two bids was only $17,000.

In a tour of the wastewater treatment plant, Elias said prospective bidders were told the plant was staffed with five employees despite the fact that USFilter staffs the plant with the equivalent of 4.5 employees.

Earth Tech based its bid on a staff of five full-time employees, Elias noted. Subtracting the cost of one-half employee from their bid would make them the low bidder by more than $6,600.

Since USFilter was allowed to submit an alternative bid based on an innovative proposal from Earth Tech which included all operational costs, Elias asked that Earth Tech be given the opportunity to resubmit its bid based on a staff of 4.5 employees.

However, interim city manager Bruce Trego advised against that course of action, describing it as bad business. “You could go back and forth like that forever,” he observed.

The request for proposals did not specify the number of employees the company needed to provide, he noted. Earth Tech made the determination it would take five employees to run the plant based on a company model.

“We asked them if they would go with less ... and they were telling us they could not and did not want to do it with less than five people,” he explained.

Public Works Director Ralph Hermann added that the USFilter proposal, as written, calls for an initial staff of five employees with the potential of reducing the staff to 4.5 employees at a later date, if feasible.

While Trego has started negotiating contract terms with USFilter, in an interview after the meeting Elias said she does not intend to drop the matter and will do everything she can to reduce the city’s costs.

No action was taken on her request.