City seeks new sewer, wastewater contract

February 7, 2007

The city of Indianapolis has issued a request for proposals to operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system.

A 10-year contract with United Water Services expires Jan. 1, 2008. United, based in Harrington Park, N.J., is owned by Paris-based Suez.

Four companies responded to a request for expression of interest issued in June. In addition to United Water, they include:


  • American Water of Voorhees, N.J., which is owned RWE AG of Essen, Germany.
  • CH2M Hill OMI Inc. of Englewood, Colo.
  • Veolia Water North America of Houston

The current contract is $42 million for the year.

The city was a pioneer of large-scale privatization of wastewater treatment when it contracted operation of its Belmont and Southport plants to White River Environmental Partnership in 1994.

A new contract that covered the plants as well as the collection system was signed three years later with White River, which in turn was absorbed by United Water.

The new contract involves taking over management of the new $1.8 billion wastewater control system as stages of construction are finished. The project, which began in 2001 and is to be finished by 2025, is expected to minimize raw sewage flowing into rivers during rain storms.

When complete, only two to four sewage overflows a year are expected; currently, there are 40 to 60.

Indianapolis residents won’t see much of the construction. Rather than tear up streets to separate waste and rain sewers, wastewater will be collected in huge storage containers a couple of hundred feet below the surface. The sewage will be pumped out gradually to be processed after rain storms pass.

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