Archive for Thursday, March 28, 2002

Private management of water department offers advantages

March 28, 2002

Next month, Alliance Water Resources will present the De Soto City Council with a proposal to run the city's water department. We share the city council's expressed interest in the Columbia, Mo., based company's services.

Alliance could appear to offer the city a partnership that takes advantage of the efficiency of the private enterprise and the financing advantages of the public sector.

Alliance's interest comes at a pivotal time. The city has been running two old and inefficient water plants. The operation is expected to become more efficient as the city becomes more reliant on the water treatment plant at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

How much that will reduce operating costs remains an open question. The city doesn't know how effective its ongoing improvements at that plant will be, nor the full scope of savings from the downsizing at Sunflower. The numbers Alliance provides will probably give the city a better estimate of the true cost of running the department than anything it can develop short of hiring a consultant.

Another factor is the city's need to find water customers among neighboring cities or water districts to take full use of the Sunflower water treatment plant's potential. Mayor Dave Anderson rightly suggested the city could make use of Alliance's professional experience in negotiations with those potential customers.

Given the corporate expertise Alliance would bring to the city's outdated operation, we would suggest any proposal that doesn't blow the roof off the water department's $750,000 2002 budget deserves serious consideration.

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