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Great Lakes Article:

Water Authority to interview firms to manage project
By Peter Rebhahn
Green Bay Press Gazette

A project to bring Lake Michigan drinking water from the city of Manitowoc to six Brown County communities will be run by a consulting firm and not an administrator - at least to start.

"It’s very difficult to try to hire qualified staff and not be able to tell them they’re going to be around for a while," said Hugh Thomas, administrator of the village of Howard and chairman of the Central Brown County Water Authority’s Administrative Committee.

Thomas’ committee will begin interviews next week with some of the seven private firms that have expressed interest in managing the Water Authority’s project for an undetermined period.

Howard and the five other Water Authority communities - Allouez, Bellevue, De Pere, Lawrence and Ledgeview - announced a deal in February to buy drinking water from Manitowoc.

The deal commits the Water Authority to $118 million in construction needed to pipe water 30 miles from Manitowoc’s water treatment plant on the Lake Michigan shoreline and distribute it to the six member communities.

The Water Authority’s contract with Manitowoc is a work in progress and may include services ordinarily performed by a full-time administrator. The authority had planned to hire such a person when it voted in 1999 to bring Lake Michigan water to residents via its own independent lake water system.

"One of the issues we’re facing is we’re still in contract negotiations with Manitowoc," said Larry Delo, city of De Pere administrator and a member of the Water Authority’s Administrative Committee. "So we have to go through that entire process to see what the workload is going to be."

The candidate firms responded to the Water Authority’s public request for proposals. Thomas said he expects to narrow the list of seven to two or three for review by the full Water Authority within three weeks.

The firm the Water Authority hires will take over the administrative duties now performed chiefly by De Pere Public Works Director Roy Simonson, current Water Authority president.

Thomas said the Water Authority may have a permanent administrator someday, but uncertainty about the precise terms of the Water Authority’s eventual contract with Manitowoc makes filling the position now problematic.

"We couldn’t tell them whether we’re hiring them for six months or three years or forever," Thomas said.

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