Pittsburgh water authority hires worldwide firm as manager
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A company that traces its management experience to 19th-century France has been tapped to lead the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for the next 12 to 18 months.
The authority board today announced its intention to negotiate a contract with a subsidiary of Veolia Water, a company working in 67 countries, including multiple locations in the United States. The authority said a contract price has not been finalized.
Authority officials are hiring Veolia to bring stability to an authority criticized for its stormwater management, a line warranty contract that went awry and the abrupt departure of the last executive director, Michael Kenney, in December 2010.
The authority chairman, state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Westwood, praised Veolia's track record in other cities.
"We look forward to them coming in here and implementing some of those practices," he said.
Since Mr. Kenney's exit, amid questions about his ties to the vendor providing the line warranty contract, the authority's day-to-day management has been shared by two veteran administrators, Stephen Simcic and Tom Palmosina. They will stay on as members of the authority's management team.
However, Veolia will relocate a California-based employee, Jim Good, to be the authority's new executive director. Mr. Good heads Veolia's West Region, which provides water and wastewater services in seven states.
Veolia also named Doug Amos, its vice president of municipal business development, as the authority's "study manager." He will be responsible for charting a plan for the authority's long-term stability and growth, including the possibility of extending service to other municipalities.
Veolia also will provide another employee to mentor authority employees in finances and operations.
Veolia was established in 1853 to operate an urban water system for French emperor Napoleon III. Today, it boasts 96,000 employees in 67 countries.
Among other customers, Veolia Water North America works in Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and New York City.
The authority was widely criticized in 2009 for implementing a $5-a-month line warranty contract.
If customers didn't want the service, they had to opt out of the program, A judge later ruled the program illegal because it competed with private-sector warranty programs.
Mr. Kenney's departure in 2010 came amid questions about his personal and professional ties to the warranty vendor.
The authority's stormwater-management practices came under fire in August, after four people died in a flash flood on Washington Boulevard in August. In the wake of that tragedy, the authority in April hired Ohio-based MS Consultants to study problematic watersheds.
First Published June 8, 2012 11:31 am