Modesto Irrigation District mulls sale of useless equipment

gstapley@modbee.comMay 13, 2013 


TRACY BARBUTES / The Modesto Irrigation District offices in downtown Modesto, Calif., on October 10, 2011.

TRACY BARBUTES — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

    alternate textGarth Stapley
    Title: Reporter
    Coverage areas: Regional water, growth, land-use and transportation; civil law, real estate fraud and special projects
    Bio: In his 19 years with The Bee, Garth Stapley has focused on city and county government

— Modesto Irrigation District leaders this morning will discuss making the best of a bad business deal that cost ratepayers more than $2 million.

Unloading useless 7-year-old power plant equipment for 13 cents on the dollar seems smarter than junking it for even less, says a report about a water treatment system that hasn't seen action in nearly two years.

The district paid $2.4 million for the equipment, which purified water for its $76.5 million "peaking" plant that opened in Ripon in 2006. The plant operates only to supplement electricity needs, usually during high-demand summer periods when people run air conditioners, about 600 hours per year.

Problems with the equipment and a new state water discharge law prompted the plant to change its water treatment process in June 2011. Aquatech International Corp., which manufactured the $2.4 million idled equipment, has offered $320,000 to buy it back.

That's better than scrapping it, which would fetch $50,000 at most, the report says.

"It is in MID's best interest to sell off the Aquatech equipment now, while it still has a reasonable salvage value," the document says.

Also today, the MID board will:

• Review an audit of the district's finances that turned up no major concerns

• Hear an update on plans for equipment to broadcast meetings, including video cameras and monitors. The district received bids from two unidentified companies for $205,000 and $230,000.

• Consider formal recognition of a new union representing mostly managers, to be called the Modesto Irrigation District Employees Association. Previously, those workers received labor terms bargained by three unions representing other employees.

The MID board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. today at the district office, 1231 11th St., Modesto. See the board's agenda at

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at or (209) 578-2390.

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