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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Veolia Water Contract May Face Public Hearing [UPDATE]

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 12:40 PM

click to enlarge Members of Dump Veolia line the hallway outside the mayor's office.
  • Members of Dump Veolia line the hallway outside the mayor's office.

Update: Click through for a copy of the preliminary Veolia contract.

Yesterday, the Estimates and Apportionment Committee met to do its usual business and was met by a rather unusual crowd.

Over 50 members of the activist group Dump Veolia showed up with handwritten signs protesting a pending consulting contract between the City of St. Louis and Veolia Water, a multinational water service company.

The issue had actually already been pulled from the agenda a day before. But organizers say they wanted to send a message to committee members Mayor Francis Slay, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, and Comptroller Darlene Green. They also say they wanted to make sure the issue didn't quietly wander back on to the agenda at the 11th hour.

See also: -French Firm, Veolia, Wins Consulting Contract with St. Louis Water Division -Watchdog Group Has Its Eye On Veolia, City's New Water Division Consultant -Veolia Water Contract Sent Back to Committee Over Concerns About Company's Reputation -"Dump Veolia" Mounts Social Media Campaign to Halt City Water Contract [UPDATE]

Dump Veolia is a social media campaign made up of both Palestinian solidarity group members and environmental concerns. We introduced them on Tuesday here. At Wednesday's meeting they carried signs that read "Veolia Supports Israeli Apartheid" and "I Love My City Water."

The crowd was large enough to necessitate moving the meeting from Slay's office to a larger gallery down the hall. In addition to activists, the (normally tiny) audience included Alderman Scott Ogilvie, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, and civil rights figure Percy Green.

The crowd in Room 208, Percy Green in the foreground.
  • The crowd in Room 208, Percy Green in the foreground.

At the close of the E&A meeting, all three committee members addressed the crowd, raising the possibility of a public meeting to address Veolia's pending contract.

"I'd love to have somebody from my staff to sit with representatives or others that have concerns about this," said Mayor Slay. "I think it's important that accurate information be out there. There is some misunderstanding."

He offered up Public Safety Director Eddie Roth as the point person for Dump Veolia representatives. Not to be outdone, President Reed jumped in as well.

"Tom Shepard from my office is also available to meet with you and talk about the issue," said Reed. "I would love to continue to talk to you about the issues as we move forward, to make sure at the end of the day the citizens of the city of St. Louis are put first before any corporation."

Comptroller Green suggested that Reed appoint an appropriate committee member at the Board of Alderman to head up an investigation of Veolia Water's history.

"That way they can be heard publicly as well as in contact with your office personnel," said Green.

"I think that's a good suggestion," said Reed.

Should such a public hearing take place, the contract -- which was quietly moving toward approval and said to be all but a done deal in December -- will face a significant delay at the very least.

After the jump, a copy of the contract in question and a response from Veolia Water North America.

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