In a recent open letter, Gulfport, MS Mayor Billy Hewes called into question the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) "opposition to competitive bidding for water and sewer piping materials” that “could save states and municipalities millions of dollars.”
He continued: “When local governments invest in water and sewer infrastructure it’s critical that open and fair competitive bidding practices are utilized in order to get the best value for scarce taxpayer dollars.”
Indeed … Why would anyone, especially the AWWA, support less competition? Why would a non-profit association representing utility engineers be taking a stand against fair and open procurement when it’s the job of engineers as public officials to objectively compare all available piping materials? How can piping materials be objectively compared when they are excluded from even being considered in any projects or bids? And why would AWWA want to deny taxpayers the opportunity to get the best long term solutions for their water infrastructure — at the most competitive price?
We’re curious: Are AWWA’s positions favoring closed procurement policies for municipal water pipe procurement processes being driven by a particular constituency? And more importantly, is AWWA truly looking after the interests of water infrastructure rate payers and the health of Americans, particularly among those in need?
Interestingly, AWWA’s position against open procurement for piping is identical to that of the ductile iron pipe industry which wants to protect its closed iron-only municipal pipe markets.
Maybe it's time to take a hard look at who is influencing the positions of AWWA, and ask: Is there a better way to fix America's deteriorating water infrastructure?