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MSD Starts Review Of City Water Department

(via Flickr/Matthew Black)

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has unveiled exactly what it will be doing for its review of the St. Louis city water department.

The waste and stormwater agency formally began work on the study on Monday, though preliminary work had been underway for about a month. The work is expected to take about four to six months, and involves MSD staff  evaluating, among other things, the water department's organizational structure, how the city can reduce its cost of treating water and the amount of time it takes to repair water mains.

The agency agreed to step in after the French utility Veolia, facing pressure from activists concerned about the company's business and environmental practices, backed out of a $250,000 consulting contract. The city says the evaluation is needed to avoid sizeable water rate hikes in the next few years.

Spokesman Lance LeComb says MSD will be able to perform about 70 percent of the work in the original contract. It will be up to the city to decide how to get the rest done. Opponents of Veolia are likely to be watching closely to make sure the company does not get a share of any contract.

The review will not cost the agency or the city any money, LeComb said, though it will mean extra work for the MSD staff.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.