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American Sewer Services submits low bid for lead-pipe replacement work

American Sewer Services, whose employees caused a stir late last year after being photographed carrying guns and bringing racist symbols to Milwaukee public-works job sites, is the apparent low bidder for a contract to replace lead water-service lines.

The company submitted the lowest of four bids for a contract calling for service-line replacement work at various locations throughout the city, according to a notice posted on Monday by the Department of Public Works.

American Sewer Services’ low bid came in at a little less than $500,000. The second-lowest offer came in at roughly $543,000. The bids were opened at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

According to city documents, whichever contractor wins the contract will be charged with the emergency replacement of various damaged or leaking service lines.

This latest bid opening comes less than two weeks after American Sewer Services signed a settlement agreement with DPW officials removing it from two public-works jobs. Taken together, the two contracts the company lost were for more than $800,000 worth of work. The Milwaukee Common Council approved the settlement agreement last week.

DPW officials advertised its latest round of service-line replacement work to bidders on Jan. 12, just one day after the agreement with American Sewer Services had been signed.

That agreement came in response to the public outrage that broke out initially after three American Sewer Services employees had been photographed carrying handguns on a job site on Milwaukee’s north side. About a week later, more photos surfaced showing a cooler, at another city job site, decorated with a Confederate flag and Ku Klux Klan sticker. The cooler was later found also to belong to an American Sewer Services employee.

Various aldermen have called for the debarment of American Sewer Services, a step that would prohibit the company from doing business with the city. But, at least for now, the contractor is free to bid on public-works jobs, said Alderman Robert Bauman, who is chairman of the Public Works Committee and who has been critical of the company.

Bauman said on Monday that he would need to look closer at the latest sewer-line replacement job before deciding whether American Sewer Services should be awarded the contract.

“Under the current situation they have the absolute legal right to continue bidding on city work,” Bauman said. “It might have been wiser for them to allow the dust to settle a bit.”

A DPW spokeswoman said that, by Monday afternoon, the department had not yet recommended  which company should be awarded the service-line contract. Department staff had not reviewed the bid results yet, she said.

Bauman said the contract and bid results might be brought up at a Public Works Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. The agenda already includes proposals related to lead service lines. The committee also plans to consider a resolution that would direct DPW to include language in all contracts prohibiting displays of certain hate symbols at city work sites.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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