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The City of Danville will seek proposals from commercial water plant operators in order to determine whether the city’s water treatment plant and storage facilities could be cost-effectively privatized.
The proposals would solicit statements of qualifications, technical approach and pricing from firms capable of providing full service operations.
“For decades, the City has successfully outsourced operation of its wastewater treatment plant and associated pump stations,” City Manager Joe King said in a statement to City Council and the Utility Commission. “Staff intends to test the market to determine whether the water treatment plant and storage facility operations could also be cost-effectively privatized.”
Jason Grey, interim director of utilities, said the objective is to determine if outsourcing operations would be more efficient. A commercial operator also would provide technical assistance regarding future capacity and regulatory issues.
“This process will allow us to compare how we are operating the plant with how others would operate,” Grey said Wednesday. “We might see that we’re doing as well or better than anyone else could.”
Under a full service contract, the contractor would be responsible for day-to-day operation, including facility management and maintenance and hiring, training and administering all personnel-related issues. The contractor also would pay all chemical costs. The City would remain responsible for capital expenses.
The request for proposals could be issued as early as next week. Responses will be evaluated and reviewed with the Utility Commission before a recommendation on outsourcing operations is presented to City Council.
King said it is anticipated that municipal crews would continue to maintain the water distribution system, as has been done with the wastewater collection system.
Grey said he met on Monday with water treatment employees to explain the process. If operations were privatized, Grey said the selected vendor would be encouraged to hire municipal employees. This was done when wastewater treatment plant operations were privatized.
Danville Utilities provides natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications services in Danville and distributes electricity to approximately 42,000 customer locations in a 500-square-mile service territory covering Danville, the southern third of Pittsylvania County, and small portions of Henry and Halifax counties.