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Dump Veolia Coalition plans City Hall protest

A local group protesting St. Louis’ proposed consulting contract with a water services firm is planning to converge on City Hall this afternoon for the monthly meeting of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

The St. Louis Dump Veolia Coalition is calling for the city to reject the proposed consulting contract with Veolia and reconvene the selection committee to choose a “less controversial” company. The city was considering a contract with Veolia to look for potential cost-saving measures in the water department.

According to a statement from the Dump Veolia Coalition, Veolia, which is based in France, has been “criticized worldwide for skirting environmental regulations, labor abuses, mismanagement, bribery, corruption, profiting from discriminatory policies in Israel/Palestine, and failure to make good on promised improvements.”

“There is no reason to continue with a company that has a track record as horrible as Veolia,” Colleen Kelly, a member of the St. Louis Dump Veolia Coalition, said in a statement.

Mayor Francis Slay issued a release today stating that the contract will be put on hold while his staff meets with “several interested parties to hear their concerns and to explain what the contract is and what it is not.”

No action on the contract is planned for this afternoon’s meeting of the E&A board, which includes Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. The board approves all city appropriations.

Boston-based Corporate Accountability International also has representatives in town to attend today’s meeting and lend its support to the Dump Veolia campaign.

“Veolia’s management contracts are a key tool for the corporation to get a foot in the door to privatize public water systems,” Kristin Urquiza, director of public water works for Corporate Accountability, said in a statement.

The city has denied plans to privatize the water department.

“The City of St. Louis now, in the near future, medium future and far future will control every drop of water in the Water Division,” Slay said in a statement. “But I understand there are constituencies who have other questions about the contract and its place in international politics or its potential impact on the environment. They deserve to have their questions answered and their concerns addressed.”

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