Fresno City Council approves spending nearly $400,000 to hire consultants to help deal with water issues

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The Fresno City Council put the nearly $400,000 contract with the water treatment experts on the consent agenda. (KFSN)

The Fresno City Council put the nearly $400,000 contract with the water treatment experts on the consent agenda. That is where routine items are passed without discussion. The quick decision was welcomed by Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda who said their expertise is needed.

"This is a great combination of experts to help us get this chemistry right in the city of Fresno."

Council Member Esmerelda Soria thought something so expensive and important should have been openly discussed. But her fellow Council Members rejected her effort to talk about it.

" I think the public deserves to know why and if we are getting the best bang for our buck."

The experts, Marc Edwards and Vernon Snoeyink, have been consulting with the city and appeared at public forums and news conferences. They are both noted for their expertise in dealing with the impact of corrosive water on residential plumbing. Esqueda said they will help the city figure out exactly what to do to stop the corrosive process that's been damaging plumbing for the past dozen years.

"We have got to find-- we've got to get the chemistry right, so we've got to make the investment in research and development of a chemistry for galvanized pipe that applies citywide because there're billions of dollars of plumbing in the city."

Homeowners who've had to replace their plumbing at costs of from $10,000 to $40,000 have filed a class action lawsuit against the city seeking compensation for their losses.

Soria felt because of the controversy, the city needs to be completely open.

"I am not opposed to the item, but I would have liked to have heard more of a public discussion about it. So I am very disappointed that there was refusals from my council to have a public discussion. "

Under city rules, any item costing less than half a million dollars can be placed on the consent agenda with no requirement that the public gets to comment on it.

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