The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter


Water and Waste Utility Contract Bidders have Histories of: Poor Performance, Cost Over-runs and Corruption

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on January 12, 2010 at 12:09 AM

According to a Free Press article from this fall, the three companies that the City has short-listed to become a partner in its new Water and Waste Service model are CH2m Hill, Black & Veatch and Veolia.(1)

These three huge multinational corporations all have dubious reputations with regards to cost-over runs, lack of economic accountability, labour practices, and environmental standards. In a later article Journalist Bartley Kives pointed out that "...the final three candidates to become a "strategic partner" with its future utility are similar to the real-life inspiration for the latest James Bond villain."(2) The City is expected to announce which private partner they plan to go with in January 2010. This partner would receive up to 49% control of our Water and Waste Utility.

CH2M Hill

• "CH2M Hill was and is really at the vanguard of this privatized disaster response” also noting that in the case of Sandy Springs that "The entire city infrastructure doesn't work for the city government, but works for CH2M Hill."  (3)

• "The (inspector general) report says the U.S. canceled a contract with Colorado-based CH2M Hill because of cost overruns and paid $4.1 million although nothing was built." (4)

• CH2M Hill has been criticized by lawmakers for receiving no-bid contracts after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. (5)

• Congressional Democrats question whether CH2M Hill may have a conflict of interest overseeing another corporation (Flour) that they have collaborated with on high-dollar federal contract work in the past. (6)

• "Huge multinational corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, AshBritt and CH2M Hill (who have well-documented ties to the Bush Administration and/or members of Congress) have made a fortune from no-bid and contingency contracts to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq, and have also received similar contracts to clear debris and rebuild the Gulf Coast. And the very same problems have emerged: overcharging, underperformance, and a near complete lack of accountability." (7)

• CH2M Hill's "undocumented" and  "excessive" expenses paid by the taxpayers of Mooresville, North Carolina are being investigated. (8 )

• CH2M Hill, which managed the water and sewer systems in East Cleveland, provided as much as $10,000 a month for "consulting fees" to Cleveland engineer Ralph Tyler, who gave the money to businessman Nate Gray, who used the money for bribes.  (9)

Black & Veatch

• "Data from Black and Veatch’s 2006 California Water Rate Survey show that households in districts with privately owned systems are paying, on average, 20.28 percent more per month for clean drinking water than households served by either municipal systems or special water districts created by citizens and overseen by government officials." (10)

• In November of 2000 Black and Veatch was charged with Unfair Labor Practices in the state of Oregon. (11)

• "Escambia County Utilities Authority fired BV (Black and Veatch) from its job upgrading its sewer plant because “the firm's design work (was) brought into question by the plant's hundreds of recent water quality violations and (an) environmental lawsuit filed by the state;” and the Wastewater Reclamation Authority of Des Moines Iowa, angry with BV for building a sludge storage facility too close to homes, forcing people to relocate."  (11)

• Global problems be come local problems - “We had to make a workforce adjustment based on the global financial situation,” George Minter, Company spokesman for Black & Veatch said in response to company layoffs. “It’s causing some of our energy clients to delay certain projects.” (12)

• Black & Veatch's Tarakhil Power Plant in Afghanistan has been exposed to have significant planning problems, cost over-runs and alleged corruption. (13)


• After serious financial and legal problems emerging from questionable privatization contracts the company adopted the name Veolia Environnement in 2003 when it was sold by former parent company and media conglomerate Vivendi Universal.  "Veolia’s track record in the United States since the 1990s includes privatization failures in communities large and small." (14)(15)

• An employee error that caused a boil-water alert for more than a million people, closing local businesses and canceling school for 40,000 students was only one of the many problems the city of Indianapolis encountered with Veolia. (15)

• A Puerto Rico government commission found the company (Veolia) had racked up $695 million in operational losses, $6.2 million in fines and more than 3,000 operational, maintenance and administrative deficiencies. (15)

•  In 2007, a U.S. District Court found that the Veolia subsidiary acted “acted unfairly and deceptively” to win the contract  to operate the city’s sewage plant, and fined the corporation more than $230,000. (15)

• The city of Angleton, Texas terminated its contract with Veolia and took the company to court, charging it breached its contract by failing to maintain adequate staffing levels, not submitting capital project reports, and charging improper expenses to the maintenance and repair tab picked up by the city. (15)

• Stockholm Council rejected Veolia’s bid for a project in Sweden after citizens took action recognizing that they will not support Veolia due to their unethical practices in other countries. (16)

• "An explosion that killed two sub-contractors at a Launceston waste management plant in 2005 could have been avoided if the company (Veolia) had appropriate risk assesment procedures in place." (17)

• "SA Water (South Australia Water) yesterday started action in the Supreme Court, suing United Water (a subsidiary of Veolia Water) for allegedly issuing false, misleading invoices so taxpayers would foot the bill for its international operations." (18 )

Please help protect our Public Water and Waste Service.  Tell your MLA and City Councillor that Winnipeggers do NOT want Private Partner for the City's new Water and Waste Water Utility.



(1) Winnipeg Free Press - Three-firm race for water job, Choice of 'strategic partner' for utility now narrowed - By: Bartley Kives - September 22,2009 -

(2) Winnipeg Free Press - Quantum of suspicion, Short list of 'strategic partners' for Winnipeg utility would make James Bond look twice - By: Bartley Kives - October,3, 2009 -

(3) Naomi Klein -  The Shock Doctrine (2007)

(4) USA Today - Canceled Iraq contracts cost U.S. $600 million - By: Matt Kelley - November 17, 2008 -

(5) MSNBC - Study: Millions wasted in Katrina contracts - 70% of contracts awarded without full bidding, Democratic report says - August 24, 2006 -

(6) CorpWatch - REBUILDING: AT WHAT COST AND IN WHOSE IMAGE? - By: Rita J. King - August 16th, 2006 -

(7) CorpWatch - How High Can the Katrina Price Tag Go? - August 22nd, 2006 -

(8 )Mooresville Tribune - No receipts? No problem: Town pays company's bills anyway - By: JAIME GATTON - August 22, 2007 -

(9) Citypages - RNC contributor CH2M Hill involved in major bribery scandal - By Kevin Hoffman in National - June 17, 2008 -

(10) Food and Water Watch - Economic Failures of Private Water Systems - Private Control of Water Increases Consumer Costs - December 2007 -

(11) Business & Human Rights resource Centre - Profile of U.S. Corporations Awarded Contracts inU.S./British-Occupied Iraq - Prepared by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) for The Workers of Iraq and The International Labor Movement - 2003 -

(12) The Star - Black & Veatch layoffs - By: Kevin Collison - February 9, 2009 -

(13) CorpWatch - Black & Veatch's Tarakhil Power Plant: White Elephant in Kabul - By: Pratap Chatterjee - November 19th, 2009 -

(14) ZNet - Enron-Style Corporate Crime and Privatization, Enron-Style Corporate Crime and Privatization - By: Darren Puscas - June 20, 2003 -

(15) Food and Water Watch - Fact Sheet - A Closer Look: Veolia - July 2008 -

(16) Pressrealease: Veolia looses 3,5 billion EUR contract in Sweden - By: Joakim Wohlfeil - January 21, 2009 -

(17) The Examiner - Deadly Veolia blast could have been avoided, says coroner - By: Zara Dawtrey, Court Reporter - October 28, 2009 -

(18 ) The Advertiser - South Australian government sues United Water over contract - By: Russell Emmerson, Sean Fewster - September 01, 2009 -,,26005948-2682,00.html


Categories: Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades, What's the deal with VEOLIA?

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