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Friday, June 11, 2010

City of Cincinnati still pushing for the sale of Water Works

Posted by Justin Jeffre

The unaccountable City Manager is moving forward with his plan to sell our Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW). The public will get a vote on the issue thanks to the NAACP’s ballot drive. The sale of GCWW could create more urban sprawl and less accountability to our citizens.

As we previously reported back in Marchphone polling to gage public sentiment on this issue has been done to devise a propaganda campaign that is being unleashed.  The City Manager’s office is now doing outreach to community councils and claiming that the city would receive an annual payment of $14-18 million a year.

Below is a flyer being sent out to community councils. Water is our most precious and most wasted resource.

Proposed Public Regional Water District, Why Change?

The City of Cincinnati is considering transferring Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) to a public regional water district, following a recommendation by City Manager Milton Dohoney.  The proposed change will allow Water Works to expand its service area beyond what is currently permitted by the Ohio Constitution. 

The addition of more customers will help keep rates low and maintain water quality well into the future because costs can be spread over more customers. 

In addition, the City of Cincinnati would receive an average annual payment of $14-18 million to be used for infrastructure improvements like roads, bridges parks and more. This revenue can help our current businesses grow and prosper, attract new businesses and create more jobs. 

The proposed water district could never be privatized. It would remain a public entity and be governed by a local independent board made up of local citizens and experts, and the majority would be appointed by the City of Cincinnati.

It will also recognize GCWW employee’s current union representation and employees will enjoy the same compensation and benefits as they did when employed by the city. 

A public meeting will be held in late summer. In the coming weeks, all registered voters in the City of Cincinnati will receive an invitation to attend. 

For more information about the proposed public regional water district, visit

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  1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Why is it that with all of the people that are with the water works that non have the expertise to run the water works as good or better than those from the private sector?

    Thee was mentioned some restrictions by Ohio law. I don’t know of any restrictions, but if they exist and it is in the interests of the people of Cincinnati, then change the laws. The laws are for the people not the government.

    We have a German heritage in this town and we like to brag about it from time to time. To sell of a needed asset would make the German’s that built this city turn over in their graves. When they sell city assets they deny our children what we were trusted with.

  2. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Why is it that with all of the people that are with the water works that non have the expertise to run the water works as good or better than those from the private sector?

    GCWW is run very well. I have heard that some state law somehow prevents the city from selling water beyond the municipalities it is currently serving. Otherwise they could sell more water and generate more revenue. Yes, I don’t understand why the city can’t just lobby to change the law.

    It would be foolish to sell the GCWW. It’s too bad this city has been mismanaged for so long that they would even consider such a bad idea.

  3. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    1. Just what is the law that you refer to.
    2. The city has been selling water beyond its borders for years.
    3. The city enjoys the privilege to avoid coming under PUCO because it is a city. Is this what they are afraid of? Is there something they are not telling us?
    4. The city has home rule privileges and if the water works is in the charter, how can the state tell us we can’t have a municipal-owned business?
    5. Actually, the water works appears to be run well because it is a public utility that has a monopoly and enjoys privileges that a private company does not enjoy. With these advantages, why would they want to be a private company?
    6. Cincinnati should provide water at no charge to the citizens and work from the profits of selling water to others. This is what our government should be doing. The city government should be justifying its existence by providing services that can be provided more efficiently in the collective that we can individually. We need to demand more for the government that is supposed to be serving us. The government exist for us, not the other way around.

  4. anon says:

    Which specific part(s) of the public report recommending the sale do you find fault with and why?

  5. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I reread that bull crap that the city gave as a reason and each time I feel like I need to sleep on my back for fear that I may get punked.

    They claim: “The proposed change will allow Water Works to expand its service area beyond what is currently permitted by the Ohio Constitution.”

    The constitution puts limits on the governing body not the governed, doesn’t it?

  6. anon says:

    Which specific part(s) of the public report recommending the sale do you find fault with and why?

    Still waiting for an intelligent response from a critic of the plan, one that provides some indication that they’d actually read and understood the issues in the report.

  7. .Cincy..Capell. says:

    Yet another hysterical, over the top anti-City progress article.

    Most of the major Northern Kentucky municipalities sold their local water works to the Northern Kentucky Water District a decade ago. The creation of that regional water district has resulted in excellent, reliable service, lower water rates better quality water for it’s users. A decade on, and even the District’s foes now admit that they were wrong to oppose the sale of their local water works to the District.

    And cite some proof that creating a water district will spawn more ‘urban sprawl’. Incidentally the water district would not be a private company but rather a public utility governed by the same laws as the current Cinti water Works and would still be run by the same experts that run the system now.

  8. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Who will protect us from the syphilis?

  9. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:


    Check out the following and could this be an intended or unintended consequence of the plan to sell the water works?

  10. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    There is a big difference between some small local water works selling to a large district.

    Cincinnati is not a small local water works. It is a successful entity that has all of the efficiencies in place and functioning. In other words it is of an optimum size. Small companies are often too small to take advantage of the efficiencies.

    Local banks and savings and loans are a typical example of the phenomenon. This is not to say that it is better that the small banks sell to the larger banks even though it may be more efficient. I only mention this example to challenge the assumption that because some small company does something successfully it may not work for all companies.

  11. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    anon, I stated my concerns in the first paragraph. Can’t you read?

    CC, you probably think giving away over $100 million in garage revenue in exchange for $7.5 million was a good deal too. I agree with dieter that what you cite is different. And the fact that two guys changed their minds isn’t very compelling.

    Selling one of our greatest assests isn’t progress. Especially when it is currently undervalued. It is worth much more than they are saying it is.

    Water is key to development and a Regional Water District would expand water sales beyond where we are currently selling water. Their goal would be to sell as much water as they can. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this could create more urban sprawl.

    Government policies from the past have pushed urban sprawl which decreased the city’s population and created problems for our city. Cincinnati shouldn’t do anything that will create anymore urban sprawl.

    There are also concerns about the workers and their future under a Regional Water District. A Regional District won’t be as accountable and their main concern won’t be the citizens of Cincinati who own it now.

  12. .Cincy..Capell. says:

    Justin your refrain of giving away $100 million in garage revenue is as wrong as it is tired. 3CDC paid for the infrastructure repairs to the garage and rehab of Fountain Square (which we all know that you don’t like so save yourself the trouble of typing it again) that cost some $40 million+. The infrastructure repairs to the garage had to be made and had been neglected for decades. 3CDC will also have to pay for all operational, maintenance & repair costs for the balance of their lease. How much of that $100 million is left over? And as long as 3CDC is reinvesting any profit in Downtown development that is a major win for the City and it’s residents.

    Dean you must be very desperate if you are relying on scare tactics like the Tuskegee Experiments to win your argument against the creation of a metropolitan water district. If some evil doer wanted to inject syphilis into the water supply they could do so now just as easily as they could if the water system became a district. So do tell us how the creation of a Metropolitan Water District-a public utility just as the Cinti Water Works currently is-could lead to a greater chance of another Tuskegee Experiment?

  13. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    The city put in $4 million towards the renovation and could have easily taken out a loan, but then 3CDC wouldn’t have had money to play with. The garage was profitable even though they kept the parking rates much cheaper than 3CDC does. 3CDC ran over budget, took longer than they were supposed to and they failed to make the garage safe handicapped people. Who does a $42 million dollar renovation without thinking about safety? 3CDC! (Actually $1oo million is a very conservative number.)

    3CDC is taking over public spaces and public treasury. They are totally unaccountable to our community. They control City Hall and our daily paper. Corporate control of our city is not a win for our city; it’s the end of democracy in Cincinnati.

    Dean, apparently CC doesn’t get what you are referencing or know what sarcasm is.

    A Regional Water District would be less accountable to the citizens of Cincinnati.

  14. .Cincy..Capell. says:

    “apparently CC doesn’t get what you are referencing or know what sarcasm is”

    Perhaps I’m being obtuse, but I thought that that he was referring to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. If I’m mistaken please tell me what this refers to.

  15. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:
  16. .Cincy..Capell. says:

    Thanks, I forgot about that one.

  17. dap says:

    Cinergy was a public company.  It got bought out by Duke Energy who is not locally based and has less of a stake in our community.  Energy rates have jumped and repair times have dropped.  I don’t want that to happen to our water.

    Also, the reason that most major cities have expanded to incorporate the rest of their county is because they made joining the city a requirement to get access to their water infrastructure.  Cincinnati never did that and thus our metropolitan area remains fractured by competing interests of various communities undercutting each other to attract businesses.

  18. Duke BLOWS says:

    Here is a helpful hint on dealing with Duke. DO NOT TALK to anyone other than a service center person other than one in Cincinnati, Dayton or Newport. Keep asking to be transfered, or hang up and keep trying until you get one. The people in Atlanta are rude and the people in Charlotte are worse. They have no idea how to deal with the people in the area. Get some of the old Cinergy people, and you will be fine.

    Now- if they sell the Water Works, would that mean that all employees would have to go through a new process of review? Maybe a certain person who spends company time going to City Hall, writing press releases, and printing things on Water Works copy machines- would get busted. Oh the pain of watching the Mary and Melva show suffer. OOPS..did I write that? Why yes I did!

  19. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    A somewhat off topic thought that leads me to believe that the sale of the GCWW will be an uphill battle and such a move is unlikely at best.

    If all the GCWW employees become private employees, they will not be paying into the two local pension plans for public employees. 

    Unless… of course ... there is a deal in the works to use 100% of the sale of GCWW to pay the IOU pension liabilities the city is on the hook for.

    Just something to consider as the process moves forward.

    For the record ... I neither support nor oppose this plan because I have not seen the details and we all know about devils and details.  The concept has merit, but so does central planning.

  20. Coleman Kane says:

    The law that everyone keeps referring to prevents the publicly-owned water utility from constructing more infrastructure that isn’t meant to support the controlling jurisdiction. Much of the infrastructure in other cities and counties that brings our water out there (including nearby municipalities like Addyston, Norwood, Wyoming, etc…) were constructed by these localities. Many of them still maintain their own infrastructure, and simply pay the city to fill their pipes, others only buy Cincinnati city water to supplement water they already pump through their own systems (I think Glendale does this, for instance).

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