Full Service Westside

Every city needs clean water for its citizens. For the City of West Liberty, this means maintaining a facility that can clean 2.2 million gallons of water per day, to ensure the needs of its 3,736 residents get met. Recently, the West Liberty City Council made a historic decision regarding their water treatment plant. After thirty years of contracting its operations to CH2M HILL OMI, the city will operate its own wastewater treatment plant in an effort to meet the needs of the West Liberty Community more economically.
According to Lawrence McNaul, the City Manager and General Manager of Utilities for West Liberty, the city decided to run the wastewater treatment plant itself because it would offer huge cost savings to area residents. He elaborated that after conducting a feasibility study, the city council found that they could save approximately $389,000 this year by having the city maintain it itself. “When [the city council] saw the savings we would see, they wouldn’t even consider putting a bid out. They wanted to try doing it in house.”
While McNaul wants residents to know that their current water and sewage rates will not go down because of the management change, they will feel the savings in other ways. “We are not anticipating rates to go down because we’re making capital improvements. What we do expect is rates to not go up,” stated McNaul. When the city council looked at renewing the contract with CH2M HILL OMI, they found that CH2M HILL OMI had raised the price of running the plant to increase their profits. In order for the city to continue hiring them, they would have had to raise residents’ water and sewer rates by 3%, a significant increase.
Additionally, to complete needed capital improvements (which include repairs and upgrades to the plant) CH2M HILL OMI would have charged West Liberty even more, possibly driving rates 6% higher than last year’s. By taking over the wastewater treatment plant, the city can use money that would have gone to CH2M HILL OMI’s profits to pay for the capital gains improvements, making the plant more efficient without raising rates for area residents.
Finally, McNaul hopes that having the city run the wastewater treatment plant will help keep jobs in the community. While McNaul thinks West Liberty may have to get the plant’s supervisor from out of town (as Iowa has few Grade Four Supervisors) he believes current plant employees or other local people with the right skills and experience could fill the three other open positions (Grades Three, Two, and One Operators). “Local preference is preferred. We’ve encouraged the three operators already there to apply. They’ve been there for years and will ease the transition.”
As the City of West Liberty looks to take over operations of the wastewater treatment plant on July 1st of this year, West Liberty residents can look forward to continuing to receive quality water services without facing steep rate increases.

Full Service Westside