City Hall under fire for Water Department consulting contract
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – There is a new controversy at City Hall. Critics charge Mayor Slay with trying to jam through a contract that could lead to a French company taking over the St. Louis Water Department. The Slay administration calls that, ridiculous.
City Hall wants to pay French water conglomerate Veolia $250,000 to study how to improve St. Louis’ City Water Department. But critics claim the consulting contact is the opening round in a fight to privatize the City Water Department, and turn it over to Veolia.
“Veolia is a French company that has a history of bad environmental practices, horrible labor practices, busting unions.” said Colleen Kelly of the St. Louis Stop Veolia Coalition.
“We picked a company that cities across the nation use because they are excellent. They do other things in other parts of the world that may upset some people? I’ve heard that, I don’t know that.” said St. Louis Director of Operations Eddie Roth.
Actually, Veolia’s problems are pretty well known. Which isn’t surprising because they are the world’s largest private water company. For example, two out-of-court settlements in California. One, for dumping ten million gallons of raw sewage into San Francisco bay. Another for putting 17 million gallons worth of raw sewage into California rivers.
Why is there controversy if it’s just a consulting contract to study the water system?
“It allows them from the inside to begin to build a case for privatization, and ultimately, that just ends up costing the residents of the city more.” said Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
Money for the contract was tucked into a budget bill aldermen approved last summer. Usually, bills like that are then usually run by the City Board Of Estimate and Apportionment, made up of the Mayor, Comptroller, and Aldermanic President. This one wasn’t. Now, the Mayor’s telling Comptroller Darlene Greene she has to approve the contract.
But, the story isn’t over. The consulting contract for Veolia still hasn’t received final approval, at least not yet.
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