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York City has identified potential bidders interested in leasing control of the city's sewer system.

Four groups have expressed interest. One is the company American Water, and then there are three groups of companies: Severn Trent Services, National Development Council and Chester Engineers; Suez Environment and KWP Capital; and Veolia North America, The York Water Co. and Public Finance Authority.

The city will continue to own the sewer system and waste-water treatment plant, which city business administrator Michael Doweary called "a tremendous asset for the city," but it is looking to contract one of these groups to run it.

The group chosen to lease the control of the plant from the city will be in charge of maintaining it but also will receive any revenue from it, Doweary said.

The city issued a request for proposals on Oct. 26, and initial proposals were due Nov. 24. The city reviewed these and in January deemed the four groups qualified to run the facility, Doweary said.

Now, the city and the groups continue to meet. The potential lessors are touring the facilities and making presentations to the city.

"It’s them putting their best foot forward," Doweary said.

Any lease would last the next 50 years, said Doweary, who declined to say what the city hopes or expects the monetary terms of this lease to be. The companies' expressions of interest and initial proposals haven't included those details yet, he said.

The city currently owns and operates the system and facilities itself, leasing some use of its services to several surrounding municipalities. It's also been the recipient of costly repairs over the years — the city pumped $40 million into it a few years ago, Doweary said.

"They feel they can operate it more efficiently and effectively than we do," he said.

A company the city leases operations to would be able to raise rates, but would have to keep the increase within a certain percentage every year, Doweary said.

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.

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