Will WPB water become an option?
Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 @ 13:08:25 EST
Topic: Editorials


Will WPB water be on the agenda?

Editorial by William Coakley

January 29, 2008 - The three options immediately open to Lake Worth to supply 3 - 5 million gallons of supplemental water are: 1. the RO (Reverse Osmosis) water system we have so far invested about 15 million into  2.  buying county water or 3.  buying water from WPB.

What's worst for the city:  allowing Mock Roos to continue racking up millions in waste without putting the remaining portion of the contract out to bid... and leaving their grandfather status in place so they could drain more from us in the future without competitive bidding.

What's best for the city:  stop the RO project now and dismantle the good ole boy grandfathering status of Mock Roos while we study some real options for water supply including joint ventures, partnerships, or coop'ing to see if we can redeem the project and... putting the remaining portion of the RO project out to bid to see if the anticipated 10 million savings from the Mock Roos estimate could be realized.

The purpose of tonight's meeting is to view solutions to the city's future water needs as presented by LW staff.  However, an obvious player is missing... West Palm Beach water.  According to the WPB water department, we already have an existing water supply contract, a 16 inch line that could supply our needs, plus we can pump the water anytime which would eliminate the need for an expensive water storage system, they can guarantee 70 psi pressure, and the best part is, we don't have to spend 12 million dollars upfront just to get the water as we will have to do with getting county water.  It's a much better looking deal... so why has staff NOT included it on the agenda?  LWM researched this option over two weeks ago and this information was given to the city manager at that time ...yet until a few days ago, LW had not even contacted WPB water.  Are we being steered to yet another "most costly option" as Mr Faried has consistently done?  Why are residents and people who aren't being paid... doing the job that city staff is being paid nearly a half million in salaries to do?

The ill fated RO (Reverse Osmosis) project is at double budget figures ($12.3M now $ 24.2M) under Mock Roos management.  And the first likely casualty of this budget-rumbling cost overrun could be the cozy little "grandfather status" Mock Roos enjoys as the city's only bidder on public works projects.   As is true with most monopolies, they usually operate in their own interest at the expense of the customer.  And this fact didn't go undetected by the Internal auditor who recommended in his report that this city practice should be terminated ...so it may well get hacked tonight.

And the RO project itself may develop a new appeal if this happens.  LWM has learned from three independent sources that the real cost of the RO plant should be around 12 million dollars and not the gastly 24 million dollars projected by Mock Roos and we know those predictable Mock Roos "change orders" will certainly accelerate even that cost.  But Mock Roos maintains that the 24.4 million figure is such a good deal that surely the cost will increase if we don't snap the deal right now. 

Like many of the city's contracts, utility contracts often become little more than gravy trains for contractors and consultants to feed on at the public troth.  This is especially true when the most expensive solution can be secured through the manipulation of input to the commission.  Although WPB water has experienced less than flattering media attention they are certainly in a position to be our best option and I fully expect to hear something concrete concerning WPB water presented before any decisions are made other than de-monopolizing Mock Roos in Lake Worth.

 







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