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French Firm Retreats from St. Louis Water Fight

Kevin Killeen
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St. Louis City Hall (KMOX/file photo)

St. Louis City Hall (KMOX/file photo)

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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Fears of a French takeover of the St. Louis water department ended today, when the Paris firm Veolia withdrew its $250,000 bid to do consulting work for the department.

Mayor Slay had pushed the deal, as a way to make the department more cost effective, promising it was not as a prelude to a Veolia takeover.

But opponents had raised fears that the consulting contract was a “Trojan Horse” to give Veolia a way to end up leasing or running the water department eventually.

“The citizens who had complained got what they wanted,” said Alderman Antonio French, “They wanted their voices heard. They voiced some concerns about this company from the very beginning .”

Protestor Colleen Kelly says they raised legitimate concerns about the possibility of St. Louis turning over its water to corporate entity .

“There’s a real move in the United States to start privatizing our public resources, not just with water, and people are concerned that the short term wins are going to have long-term effects,” Kelly said.

Kat Logan Smith with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment says maintaining control of city water could be a money maker for the city in the long run, if excess capacity can be sold to other markets.

“And we do have an increasingly thirsty world, and we do have the western U.S. that’s going to be looking at the Missouri and Mississippi rivers for water,” Smith said.

The Slay Administration says it plans to regroup and ask the Metropolitan Sewer District to help with ideas for making the city water department more efficient.

Copyright KMOX

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