Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Reclaimed Water Engineering RFQ & Councilmember Concern: Related or Not?

I poured through City of San Angelo bid opportunities searching for a health insurance request for proposal.  While one is yet to be issued, I did find a bid for

Water Utilities:  Professional Engineering Services, Reclaimed Water Alternatives Evaluation
I pondered if Wilde Engineering, with two former City of San Angelo employees, would bid on this project.  Former Water Utilities Director Will Wilde left in a firestorm of public concern.

One issue was the firing of Blake Wilde, Will's son, from the City and Blake's later working as a contractor for the Hickory pipeline project (a story broken on this blog).  The Wilde's deemed it not a conflict of interest, but many residents smelled something foul.

Blake formed Wilde Engineering, which father Will later joined.  They promote their skills and experience on their website:

WE, LLC has 45+ years of in-depth knowledge and project experience that will work for you. Areas of expertise:

Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems
Environmental Regulations
Stormwater Management
Street and Bridge Design
Drainage Design.

The City's stated aim for the RFQ is to perform engineering services in the preparation of an evaluation for reclaimed water alternatives.

Will Wilde directly benefits from reclaimed city water via his cotton hobby farm.  He renegotiated a City deal with the Bureau of Reclamation to use allocated irrigation water year around.  The City struck a deal giving 100% of its wastewater to area farmers via the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District.  Recall Will Wilde is one of the area farmers receiving wastewater for irrigation.  Here's Wilde's position in 2011:

According to San Angelo’s water manager Will Wilde, the city is nowhere near actively pursuing the use of wastewater for municipal use.
Will Wilde counted on keeping his position to protect irrigation use of reclaimed water.  With that gone what's the best way to influence the city;s considerations?  It could be by speaking with elected leaders, but the greatest leverage would come from serving as engineers on the project.

Oddly, a newly elected former City Council member referred to an item he wanted on the public agenda which involved the city's hiring of consultants.  The item was removed from the public agenda and steered to Executive Session.

"Governmental bodies may not meet in closed session to discuss employment of independent contractors, such as engineering, architectural or consulting firm."  Texas Attorney General Opinion #MW-129

Note:  The Engineering RFQ is the only consulting oriented bid opportunity in the last five months.  It will be interesting to see how these two tracks vector in the near future

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