Engineers Describe Missoula City Managment as ‘Lax,’ Say Treatment Plant is ‘Inadequate’
Missoula may be trying to condemn Mountain Water Company, but testimony in court today was mostly about how well the city runs the things it is already responsible for. Engineer Gary Neun from Black and Veatch was hired to inspect the city’s waste water treatment and storm water facilities and said they were not world class.
"How would you define a world class facility?" asked the attorney.
"Black and Veatch defines a world class facility as number one: a facility that is continually in line of compliance; Number two: a facility that pays attention to day-to-day details; Number three: They learn from their mistakes; and number four: They are continually upping the ante and evaluating and revising their standard operative procedures," Neun said.
"So does the city operate on world class systems?"
"No sir, that's not our opinion," Neun said, later explaining that the facility was "inadiquate."
"It's inadequate rating was on several factors," Neun said. "We felt, number one, that there was inefficiency with their process control. We felt also that there was failure to learn from their mistakes. We felt that there was an issue regarding attention to detail on day-to-day details. We also felt that their standard operating details were either lacking or inadequate."
Another engineer, Jim Lloyd from Hydrodynamics of Helena, testified that the city was “lax” and discussed 11 violations by the city from the Department of Environmental Quality between 2008 and 2014.
"They're not learning from their failures or their mistakes," Lloyd said. "I would think this doesn't show commitment. There's a failure of commitment from the top down."
Lloyd was asked, given the track record and the "lax attitude towards compliance," based on his expertise, is the city of Missoula a viable candidate to operate Mountain Water Company?
"In the current capacity and management of the city of Missoula, I would say no," Lloyd said.
The testimony from both engineers is likely to hurt the city’s case that it can run Mountain Water Company better than a private firm. The city has long pointed to the waste water treatment facility as an example of its ability to manage a complex system well.