|WARNING: Don’t Buy It
The City of St. Louis is being sold a raw deal on its water and residents in St. Charles and St. Louis will be forced to buy it unless we stop it. Consider: the region will face higher costs and risk lower quality of the water supply if the City approves a key contract on Wednesday, Jan. 16th.
If you help, we can stop it.
Make a call,come to the meeting Wednesday, get involved.
Water is critical. It is the ice in our freezer, the water in our coffee, our soup, our infant formula, our beer, our shower, our bath, our laundry, our sprinkler, our baptismal, and our bodies.
According to a story broken by the Riverfront Times
, St. Louis city lawyers have been negotiating a $250,000 contract with a foreign company, Veolia Water North America, for advice on cutting costs in the City’s Water Division- St. Louis’ public drinking water system which also supplies St. Charles.
Why is this an environmental issue? Why is this a consumer issue?
Because Veolia is not the kind of company St. Louis, or any other city, should trust with its water. Its record is thick with environmental problems and costly violations, damage and repairs. Reading accounts of Veolia’s misdeeds reads like an encyclopedia of expensive mistakes.
The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment (E&A) is reportedly considering the contract Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 16th, at its 2 p.m. meeting at City Hall at 1200 Market St. at Tucker in St. Louis.
If you live in St. Louis or St. Charles, you drink the water and you pay for it. About 60%
of St. Charles water is from the City of St. Louis. Please take action.
You can help dump Veolia:
Call and ask that the Veolia contract be dumped – for good and forever.
At the Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting Wednesday, January 16, and stand up for clean water. (1200 N. Tucker- Meet at 1 p.m. in the rotunda for preparation or come to the meeting at 2 p.m. Please RSVP to klogansmith(at)moenviron.org)
Step it up:
Grow the effort by ‘liking’ the grassroots coalition that is uniting to save our water. See the St. Louis Dump Veolia Facebook page.
Dump Veolia – Save Money, Save Our Water
Veolia Water is a major subsidiary of Veolia Environment, a private, for-profit, French multi-national corporation based in Paris with operations reaching around the globe and the largest water privatization business in the world. The company operates sewage treatment plants, drinking water plants, landfills, hazardous waste incinerators, and transportation systems.
Veolia seeks lucrative contracts with governments, usually to operate public facilities. From these facilities it aims to cut costs, deliver services and still take profits back to France and its investors. Does it sound too good to be true?
In reports by news organizations like the Wall Street Journal
, and Reuters
and nonprofit organizations including – Water for All
, Polaris Institute
, Global Exchange
, Novato Friends of Locally Operated Wastewater
, Public Citizen
, Public Water Works
, and Food & Water Watch (here
), you will encounter over and over again three general reasons for environmental and contract performance problems in water and other facilities operated by Veolia and the subsidiaries it controls):
- Inadequate staffing
- Other cost cutting measures (inadequate testing, treatment and maintenance)
- Illegal dumping and processing of toxic material
Problems range from service outages, to illegal sewage discharges, foul odor, poor water quality, safety hazards, explosions, neglected equipment, and lower water quality.
Communities have begun dumping Veolia because of costly problems. Even Paris
dumped them in 2009.
Keep Veolia out of the St. Louis City water supply
Here are a few examples of Veolia’s record for you.
Even though Veolia cited its work in Indianapolis as a successful model to guide its work in St. Louis, the contract in Indianapolis was terminated by city because of low water quality, falsified water quality report, staff cutbacks, cutbacks in water testing, water treatment and maintenance.
In its proposal to the St. Louis Water Division
, Veolia extensively references its work in Indianapolis as a successful model that could inform Veolia’s guidance in St. Louis. If Indianapolis is any indication of Veolia’s practices, then St. Louis would do well to steer clear. Veolia claims that the contract was completed and “focused on building a collaborative environment with all of the project stakeholders (union, government and the community).” In fact the company’s 20-year contract with Indianapolis was terminated by the city less than halfway through, by which time the following had ensued:
In a study of 100 large U.S. cities, Environmental Working Group ranked Indianapolis drinking water quality #90 (i.e. 11th-worst overall). St. Louis ranks #9 — among the best in the country.
In 2005, a federal grand jury subpoenaed four Veolia Indianapolis employees as part of an investigation into allegations that the utility falsified water quality reports. The probe began amid accusations by Indianapolis council members that the company had cut back on staffing, water testing, treatment chemicals and maintenance.
In 2010, with infrastructure needs mounting and Veolia demanding more than the city could afford, Indianapolis canceled the contract more than 10 years early, for which they were forced to pay Veolia an additional $29 million. The nonprofit Citizens Energy Group took over, positioned to save the city more money than multinational Veolia was ever able to.
If Veolia gives Indianapolis as an example of a success story, what could a failure possibly look like?
Veolia acquired a wastewater contract in New Orleans in the 1990’s under its old name, US Filter. In 2001 and 2002, the plant released raw sewage into the river a total of 50 times, often violating water quality standards and resulting in more than $107,000 in fines. An audit concluded that “Observation of these plants’ activities, as well as the serious problems reported above, indicate a reduced concern for operations and maintenance by the contractor.” The city’s Sewerage and Water Board Director and staff made numerous, repeated and documented complaints about Veolia reducing staff to inadequate levels, neglecting preventive maintenance, failing to notify city officials of environmental violations, and other problems. Veolia had a long track record of failing to communicate with New Orleans in connection with the contract. In 2002, the board rejected Veolia’s bid for a new water/wastewater contract following public outrage.
Sauget, IL-Hazardous Waste Incinerator
In Sauget, IL, right across the river from St. Louis, a Veolia subsidiary operated a hazardous waste incinerator for over 10 years without a clean air permit. As of 2008, the facility had been fined more than $3 million,” mostly related to small explosions and releasing toxic chemicals
, including carcinogenic dioxins, into the air.
There’s more from California, Massachusetts, Texas, Georgia, Delaware, Belgium, Gabon, and Australia…You can dig deeper at the links above.
Thanks for taking action!
Please help spread the word.
Kathleen Logan Smith, Executive Director