Morro Bay and Cayucos waste water plant bidding process under fire
October 11, 2010
While city officials in Morro Bay battle over which of two contractors should design a multimillion dollar wastewater treatment upgrade, one of the contractors has decided to withdraw their proposal and the other is under fire for engaging in a wide range of questionable practices.
Earlier this year, Morro Bay city officials elected to have Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) design the upgraded plant for about $31 million. The plant serves both the communities of Morro Bay and Cayucos under a joint powers agreement.
Then, because of community concerns, officials decided to also allow PERC Water of Costa Mesa to submit a proposal to upgrade the plant located on the shore of Estero Bay in Morro Bay. The designers of the alternative PERC Water solution said that they could build a technologically-advanced plant for $10 million less than the proposal made by MWH.
Nevertheless, last Thursday, the president of PERC sent a letter to Andrea Lueker, Morro Bay’s city manager, that said they were dropping out of the bidding process.
“Based on our recent receipt and review of the MBCSD’s existing contracts, the lack of cooperation of city staff and that the current draft EIR does not contemplate the PERC Water solution, at the direction of our attorneys we will no longer continue our efforts on the wastewater project and will not be presenting our draft CDR on October 14, 2010,” Brian Cullen said in his letter to the city.
Rob Livick, Morro Bay public services director, contends the EIR was broad enough to cover both the design submitted by PERC and the MWH design.
Meanwhile, MWH is under fire from several government entities because of allegations of overcharging, bad business practices and poor workmanship. [SLOCoastJournal]
Two weeks ago, the city of New Orleans canceled their $48 million hurricane-recovery contract with MWH after the city’s inspector general found that the firm charged for time spent doing contract negotiations, over billed the city, gave gifts to city employees overseeing MWH’s work, engaged in noncompetitive bidding and disregarded “truth in negotiation” contract provisions.
In addition, a New Orleans city board member was sentenced to 22 years in prison for taking kickbacks involving MWH funds.
Rob Livick, Morro Bay public services director said that MWH has sent a letter refuting the office of the attorney general in New Orleans’ findings.
“We will continue to move forward as directed by the board with the oxidation ditch plan by MWH,” Livick said. “Unless directed by the board, we do not plan to look at the allegations (from the attorney general in New Orleans).”
On Oct. 14 the Joint Power Agreement Board will meet to discuss the EIR, PERC and MWH at a meeting at the Cayucos Vet’s Hall at 4 p.m.