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Veolia contract keeps control with city

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 7:48 pm

Veolia’s proposed contract with the city’s water division would reduce annual operating costs up to 15 percent, conserve water and reduce energy usage. From an environmental and financial standpoint, there’s a lot to like.

The allegations raised in a recent story in The St. Louis American are incredibly inaccurate (“Analysis shows Veolia deal effectively privatizes water operations, threatens provisions of Sunshine Law”). The argument falsely claims that “the operations of the City’s Water Division would be under the control of Veolia – that’s privatizing.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The contract is not privatization. Any claim that states or tries to imply privatization is wrong.

The city selected Veolia to provide consulting on how to reduce annual operating costs up to 15 percent without layoffs, how to conserve water and how to reduce energy and chemical usage.

Veolia’s proposal states clearly that this is a consulting agreement and that all assets and employees remain public. This can all be found in Section 1.7 of the contract, which among other things, states that “the City and SLWD will at all times be fully responsible for the operation and maintenance of its facilities.” The proposal is explicit. This is a public-private partnership consulting contract.

The accusations make assumptions about Veolia’s business that are not true. Veolia’s core business is the public-private partnership model. In fact, Veolia only has one “privatization” contract in North America, in Franklin, Ohio. That was signed in 1995 as part of an EPA pilot project. Our focus is public-private partnerships. We believe that public ownership with private sector support can make cities stronger.

The consulting model selected by St. Louis is not new. Various other North American cities have implemented this model, including New York City. The city expects to save more than $100 million annually by using it.

Veolia wants to keep the system public and has said so publicly numerous times; the city wants to keep the system public; the City Charter restricts privatization; and the contract states that the system would be public. That’s it in a nutshell – claims to the contrary are wrong.

The St. Louis Water Division is doing a good job providing quality water with the infrastructure they have. But when they asked the city for permission to raise rates for the third time in three years, the city first wanted to see if the system could be made more efficient.

The city asked four companies to provide proposals for help. Veolia’s proposal was selected. People will get to keep their jobs while the city benefits from improvements in environmental efficiency. Veolia is proud to provide this service to St. Louis and looks forward to working with the city.

David Gadis is Executive Vice President of Veolia Water North America and a key member of the team that would work with the City of St. Louis. Ratepayers interested in the facts of the proposal can read the documents directly at

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • ogel posted at 11:19 am on Sun, Mar 24, 2013.

    ogel Posts: 453


    "This negro that Veolia rolled out to try to fool the black residents?"..............Why must you use this man's race in order to argue your point of view? You do not speak for all black residents of the city or represent their point of view. You lose credibility with many who otherwise might give your views reasonable consideration.

  • RETIRED1 posted at 9:11 am on Sat, Mar 23, 2013.

    RETIRED1 Posts: 10

    This negro that Veolia rolled out to try to fool the black residents of St. Louis should be ashamed of himself! If Veolia takes over their for profit agenda will result in poorer water quality and higher costs for city residents!

  • Water and Justice posted at 9:09 am on Thu, Mar 21, 2013.

    Water and Justice Posts: 3

    Everything that H2O Man writes makes sense. We all need to make some difficult decisions about the Water Division. We, as the people of St. Louis should make these decisions. We should not bring a private, foreign company to take control of our water and profit from it.

  • H2O Man posted at 10:53 pm on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    H2O Man Posts: 1

    I work for the Water Division and here are some facts:
    1. We can't reduce energy costs without a major investment in NEW infrastructure.
    2. We can't reduce chemical costs without a DECREASE in water quality.
    3. We can't reduce personnel costs without a reduction in workforce.
    4. We could INCREASE revenue by metering ALL customers.

  • Water and Justice posted at 10:15 pm on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    Water and Justice Posts: 3

    Mr. Gadis doesn't even respond to the claims of the previous article. The article doesn't deny that the contract will put ultimate responsibility for the water on the city. What it says is that a legal analysis by the Great Rivers Environmental Law Clinic found that the contract would allow Veolia to claim as "trade secrets" all information and systems developed in the water division. This would give Veolia effective control (but not ultimate responsibility) for the water division.

    That is what Veolia wants. Give them the power, let them take profits, and keep liability public.

    Don't be fooled by Veolia's well funded PR campaign. We don't need this company interfering in the operations of our water division.

  • vernon posted at 9:48 pm on Wed, Mar 20, 2013.

    vernon Posts: 1

    Nice try Veolia to think that having Mr Gadis (an African American) comment in the manner written, is an insult to the intelegence of the predominently black readers of the St Louis American. The facts are Veolia is in this Money grab for profit and the profit at the end will be paid for by the tax payers as always. The politicians behind this bad deal should be removed from office and the already known issues of conserving water and streamlining should be addressed without handing out money his city does not have to companys like Veolia who seem to sugar coat every contract that is eventually a burdon are disaster on the community that was sold the snake oil that Veolia sells around the world.