The V.I. Waste Management Authority said Friday it is evaluating plans to operate the wastewater treatment plants on St. Thomas and St. Croix without the help of third-party contractor Veolia, which announced Thursday that it is going to turn over the plants due to unpaid bills.
In its statement Friday, WMA noted its “long working relationship with Veolia” and said it “regrets the public position Veolia has taken in recent weeks, particularly in light of the significant payment VIWMA has made to Veolia, without condition, in March of this year.”
Veolia said it was owed more than $5 million for operating the two plants and has repeatedly tried to engage the government to sit down and work out a repayment plan, but that its calls have not been returned. (See Related Links, below.)
WMA reported it paid $461,598.36 on April 6.
Instead, the authority said it is now looking at taking over operation of the plant.
“In response to Veolia’s request to transition operations back to the Waste Management Authority, we began evaluating our options for the successful operation of the St. Croix and St. Thomas contracted wastewater facilities. which will result in large cost savings for the authority,” the agency said in its news release. It also noted, “The Waste Management Authority successfully operates its six other facilities without the use of a third-party vendor.”
Veolia was hired to build the two plants with federal funds back in 2005, to help the territory meet a federal court ordered consent decree to improve sewage treatment and reduce releases of sewage-contaminated water. The decree requires a third party operate the plant and the WMA hired Veolia for the job.