The city of Fayetteville has hired Clearwater Solutions to operate and maintain the City’s water and sewer systems, further ensuring the growing community’s infrastructure and utility services are efficiently and effectively served well into the future.
The cost: Base operational annual fee of $1.9 million plus a budget of $500,000 annually to cover repairs and maintenance.
City Council members unanimously approved the initial five-and-a-half-year contract after months of investigation and research into the possibility of having a private company provide operations and maintenance services to the city’s water system and to its now-upgraded sewer system.
Clearwater Solutions will look after the city’s water and sewer plants, 26 sewer lift stations, the water distribution system, and the wastewater distribution system.
City employees assigned to the Water and Sewer departments will be offered jobs with Clearwater Solutions receiving pay and benefits comparable to what they currently earn with the city.
Director of Public Services Chris Hindman explained in his recommendation there is a lot of competition for certified operators and maintenance employees within the industries, so attracting and retaining those employees has become increasingly more difficult.
He said Clearwater Solutions has a large pool of certified operators and maintenance employees than can be concentrated and shifted from location to location to ensure all of their clients’ systems are running at peak performance.
“They can allocate their use at any time to fill employment gaps, which the city cannot currently fill,” Hindman said.
Clearwater Solutions presently serves dozens of public utility clients across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. In each case, clients retain ownership of their infrastructure assets.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements with the wastewater operations,” said Assistant City Manager/Fire Chief Alan Jones. “We have evaluated our systems, and we believe the best way to ensure that our infrastructure remains in compliance with all of the applicable laws and regulations is to hire a firm to perform the operation and maintenance of our systems.”
Jones noted that four bidders competed for the opportunity, but Clearwater Solutions was top-ranked and earned the contract recommendation.
That operations and maintenance contract includes a base operational annual fee of $1.9 million plus a budget of $500,000 annually to cover repairs and maintenance. The first term will actually span from February 2021 through July 2022, and the fee will be prorated accordingly. Subsequent terms will follow the City’s fiscal calendar, which runs August through July. The base fee will be automatically increased by two percent each year beginning August 2022.