The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 10, 2013

Upcoming test to determine WPCF management

OTTUMWA — The next step in securing a superintendent for the Water Pollution Control Facility all hangs on whether the interim superintendent passes an upcoming exam.

Former WPCF superintendent Bob Bruett officially retired in April 2012. The facility is responsible for treating wastewater before returning it to the Des Moines River.

But Kam Reeves — who has worked at the WPCF for nearly 18 years — has received written approval from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources "to sign all reports and to basically operate the plant," said City Attorney Joni Keith.

"[Bruett] ... was on a separate contract with the city after he retired to continue to work and assist [Reeves]," Keith said. "Then he officially retired in April 2012, but he was assisting with the plant after retirement as well."

While the IDNR has "full confidence" in Reeves' abilities, Keith said, the problem is that he does not yet have a Grade IV certification, which would give him the license to become a wastewater treatment operator. Reeves will take the Grade IV test on July 30.

"DNR wants someone with a Grade IV in place, but they've given us a lot of leeway because they're very comfortable and confident in Kam Reeves' ability to operate that plant," she said.

In the position's job description, applicants must obtain the Grade IV certification within one year of employment at Ottumwa's WPCF, though Keith said that "because of the difficulty with the test, we are looking at those with Class IV certification now."

Recently, though, city staff began to wonder if it would save the city a substantial amount of money to privatize at least a portion of the facility.

That's why the issue was raised at Monday's City Council work session. Some councilmen wanted to obtain proposals from consultants who could compare the cost savings of the two options: privatize operations or continue as is.

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