OMI isn't on water plant vendor short list

Operations Management International, the private operator of the city's wastewater treatment plant for the past decade, likely will be gone by year's end.


The Augusta Commission put the job up for bid in October, rather than paying a consulting firm nearly $74,000 to determine whether the Utilities Department was ready to run the plant itself.

Proposals were due Monday, and the Procurement Department worked into the night, Director Geri Sams said, narrowing a list of vendors to three.

OMI didn't make the cut. According to procurement documents, six companies bid, and the three on the short list are Duluth, Ga.-based ESG Operations Inc.; Houston-based Severn Trent Environmental Services Inc.; and Harrington Park, N.J.-based United Water Services Inc. The Utilities Department doesn't appear to have submitted a bid.

Ms. Sams would not say why OMI was passed over. A vendor chart shows it was not because of a lack of documentation. Bid dollar amounts won't be available until the contract is awarded.

A subsidiary of the city's water-consulting firm, Colorado-based CH2M Hill, OMI has been credited with getting the J.B. Messerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, off Doug Barnard Parkway, out of hot water with the state Environmental Protection Division.

Before OMI, the city was routinely fined by EPD. In 1999, the city paid $160,000 for a series of environmental violations and spills, including a line collapse that backed 1 million gallons of raw sewage into the Savannah River. Before that, the city had been issued at least 10 consent and administrative orders for deficiencies dating to 1982 and had paid fines totaling $203,690.

OMI's and CH2M Hills's contracts end Dec. 31, and both companies have come under fire by some Augusta commissioners this year because CH2M Hill fired its liaison to the city, Tony Johnson, who was specifically named in the contract. During a closed legal meeting in March, the commission considered suing CH2M Hill over the breach.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or